PORTLAND, Ore. -- Robotic technology that climbs walls using Tarzan's "swinging rope" technique was demonstrated recently by the University of Utah. The rocking-climbing-oscillating robot (ROCR) is claimed to be the world's most efficient climber, and is aimed at applications such as inspection of buildings, bridges, dams, storage tanks and nuclear facilities as well as reconnaissance within buildings.
According to its developer, professor William Provancher, climbing robots have to date focused on grappling techniques and speed. "ROCR is the first to focus on climbing efficiently," Provancher said.
The 1.2 pound, 18-by-12.2 inch ROCR climbs at just 6.2 inches per second, but does so with a record-setting 20 percent efficiency, according to Provancher.
A rocking-climbing robot uses a pendulum-like tail (using its battery as ballast) to gain height which it uses to ratchet upward, claw-over-claw style.
ROCR consist of two claws that hold to the wall while a microcontroller directs a small motor to swing its pendulum-like tail to gain height, after which its opposing claw ratchets up a few inches, allowing the robot to shimmy up an eight-foot wall in about 15 seconds.
Doctoral candidate Mark Fehlberg and former student Samuel Jensen-Segal contributed to Provancher's work. Funding for the project was provided by the National Science Foundation and the University of Utah.