A new base-jumping robot can climb up buildings before deploying a paraglider to fly back down to earth. It is also equipped with an on-board video camera to film the jump.
The robot – named Paraswift – is a collaboration between Disney Research and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, and was initially built for entertainment purposes. But as the first compact robot that can both climb and fly, it has practical uses too, such as gathering aerial footage for 3D modelling systems.
The remote-controlled robot uses a rotor spinning in a tube – known as an impeller – to create a vortex that lets it stick to the wall as it climbs. The centre of this vortex is low pressure, just like the centre of a tornado, and the pressure gradient glues the robot to the wall.
The ability to climb walls seems like a really useful feature. For example, if it can scale bigger and keep the adhesion force, it could make for a great way to clean windows on skyscrapers.