The Shanghai Expo in Japan presented three new humanoid robots that have been designed for one function only – to climb walls like nobody’s business. Called “Yume Robo”, the 140cm, 30kg bots have been climbing up and down a 15-meter wall every 20 minutes for the past half a year. It is not precisely clear why (it looks like a technology demonstration rather than a robot designed for anything practical–Awesome-o), but they have shown that if you focus a robot on one thing, it’s going to start doing it really good.
Another thing not clear is why they are dressed in silver astronaut-like clothes, and why they all have two antennas on their heads that make them look like little green men from Mars, but that is most probably an aesthetic choice. Interestingly enough, the robots are said to have been created by no less than 15 midsize companies in Osaka, so it was a collaborative effort by many engineers. Maybe the design was just the most neutral idea they could come up with?
Their wacky appearance aside, the Yume Robots climb the walls much in the same way a human can. They move up limb by limb, first making sure that their hands and feet are secure on the bar before trying to go further. They are a little bit on the slow side, but that is compensated in the stability they seem to possess. To simulate a human climber further, the creators also programmed them to move their heads towards each progressing limb, as if they are consciously checking to see that everything is alright.
All the above you can see in the video, which unfortunately only features one of the Yume Robos in action. It would have been curious to see all three of them scaling the wall, though I don’t suspect they will have been programmed with any real team-work abilities.