Sloth Robot Climbs Ladder Without a Net, And It’s Made of Lego! (video)

X-4 'Sloth' climbs without a safety line.

The most daring human acrobats swing through the air without the safety of a net to catch them if they fall. Robots are usually much smarter. You’ll rarely see a walking robot get off the ground without a safety line, harness or other belay to keep them from injury in case gravity gets the better of them. Well, the X-4 “Sloth” robot apparently likes to be dangerous. It can climb a human scale ladder vertically, and travel hand over hand horizontaly, without a safety line. It’s life hangs on the strength of its grasping ‘toes’. Built out of Lego NXT Mindstorm components, the X-4 is an amateur project that shows professional level daring. Watch the quadruped bot slowly climb its way into the hall of fame in the video below. Did I mention it’s nicknamed the ‘sloth’?

A quick note before you fire up this video: it’s 10 minutes long and the robot is slow. We’re talking ssssslllllooooowwwww. So, my advice is to press play, pause it, let the entire video load, then manually move the slider bar to watch the robot climb in super high speed. Much more entertaining.

Obviously the X-4 is called the sloth for its slow grace as much as its style of three-toed climbing. The robot would be infinitely more impressive if it moved faster, but even at its snail’s pace it still accomplishes something few others would try. Even professional bots that work on high voltage power lines are secured to the conducting wire itself. X-4 opens and releases its toes on every rung. That’s dozens of chances of falling to its doom in the video above. I’m guessing that it probably did just that several times in development. Creator ‘222Doc’ (aka Mac from Arizona) reports in his blog that he spent “hundreds of hours” developing the X-4. Now that it seems to be fully functional and death-defying, I’m hoping 222Doc will be able to speed it up, and maybe port its skills over to other robots. Hmm…I wonder if he knows he can upload code to ROS? C’mon 222Doc, everybody’s doing it!

[image and video credit: 222Doc]

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