This Wall-Climbing Robot Has A Thing For High Art

By Nick Venable | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

vertwalkerWe’re not trying to condone the illegal act of tagging public buildings or anything, but we’re saying if you ever did happen to get into such behavior, you’d have a hard time finding something more handy than Sonice Development’s Vertwalker, a wall-climbing robot programmed to perform the kind of wall art that a man with a just a spray can could only dream of. I do assume underground artist Banksy has Inspector Gadget legs, allowing him to do some of the things he’s done, but he’s like a mythical being at this point. Anybody could potentially own a Vertwalker. Owning a Banksy probably breaks a different sort of law or two.

This electronic artist was created by Berlin designers Julian Adanauer and Christoper Haas, who were inspired by art going vertical, no longer held to a horizontal tether. Essentially, it’s a Roomba equipped with a lip around the bottom of the device that creates a vacuum seal to form, allowing it to travel across walls. What makes it even more successful is the minimal amount of friction that the lip causes.

vertwalker opened

The design was actually conceived by the creators’ friend Achim Meyer, but it was adapted to overcome its limitations, allowing for the crudest version of The Sistine Chapel to be performed by a ‘bot. The E-David ‘bot artist could technically paint Michelangelo’s masterpiece, but it wouldn’t be able to defy gravity in order to do so.

“The Vertwalker works autonomously with a fixed set of rules that make use of the internal sensors and keep it within a specified area on the wall,” Adanauer told Co. Design. “A pattern then emerges from these rules. It can be interesting to see the unexpected art that comes when the robot’s ‘perfect’ digital rules come face to face with an ‘imperfect’ material world.”

So while the video below shows off the Vertwalker’s skill in painting a fixed grid of lines that it follows ad nauseum, it’s possible to program it to paint a very specific shape, as the creators have thought about sending the ‘bot up Berlin’s Alexanderplatz tower and painting the company’s own tag, “NICE,” on the wall. My guess is they’d need this guy to clean it off. Check out that video below.

The end goal is synchronizing a group of these guys together to work on a single image. “We want it to be like a dance of drones,” Adanauer said. They are currently trying to put a crowdfunding campaign together to get at least 50 Vertwalkers funded, so that a massive art project can come together. Like an ant pile of graffiti-minded robots. That sounds scarier.

Below, you’ll find another project put together by Sonice. It’s a slew of cocktail umbrellas all controlled by motors and software. It’s positively hypnotizing and needs to be in the corner of my living room. Enjoy.

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