Disney unveiled a wall-climbing robot Tuesday that can zip along grassy fields as easily as it climbs up nobby brick walls.
Debuted to the world in a post on Disney Research and a YouTube video (above) of the device in action, the VertiGo robot looks like what you might get if you crossed a drone flyer with miniaturized all-terrain rover.
The robot has two propellers that tilt to thrust it against a vertical service, holding it there without dropping. It also has four wheels, two of which are steerable, so it can drive — so to speak — conventionally on a horizontal ground or vertically on walls.
Disney Research is the media giant’s international network of labs dedicated to pushing scientific and technological innovation on behalf of Disney. VertiGo itself is a collaboration between Disney Research Zurich and ETH, a tech and science university.
Though VertiGo isn’t exactly in Disney’s current TV-and-movies wheelhouse, its development harkens back to an engineering legacy going back to the company’s founding. Decades ago, that meant Disney tackled first-of-its-kind technological effects, like the multiplane camera, high-quality audio-animatronics and the country’s first monorail system at Disneyland.
Today, Disney continues to sustain Disney Research as an experimental tech think tank. Its labs pursue realms as diverse as artificial intelligence and social psychology.
Disney’s acquisition of Pixar in 2006 was a source of inspiration for the formation of Disney Research, and the animation studio continues to influence the way the arm is organized and run. Disney Research also has a strong focus on computer graphics, computer vision and video processing stemming from the Pixar connection.
How VertiGo can advance Disney’s mission is anybody’s guess, but this little guy is pretty cute doing it. A new character for the next “Star Wars” perhaps? BB-8 could use a buddy.