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This robot 'dog' can climb ladders, a first for four-legged robots


ladder climbing robot

  • Researchers successfully built a quadruped robot that's capable of climbing ladders.
  • The robot was created by a team at Tokyo Metropolitan University and debuted earlier this month, IEEE Spectrum reported.
  • It uses a 3D camera, touch and force sensors on its claws. A neural network — learning software that allows the robot to execute complex functions — enables it to navigate ladders.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Four-legged creatures, both living and robotic, have historically had a hard time climbing ladders — until now.

Researchers at Tokyo Metropolitan University have created a quadruped robot capable of climbing a vertical ladder without assistance, IEEE Spectrum reported. 

The robot debuted at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems earlier this month.

The achievement represents the latest physical feat by a quadruped robot that approaches the capabilities of living animals. Robot dogs made by other research teams have been trained to open doors, withstand destabilizing blows, and run across uneven ground.

While there's no single intended purpose researchers have in mind for quadruped robots, government agencies are already expressing interest — earlier this year, Massachusetts police began working with "Spot," a robot dog designed by Boston Dynamics.

Take a look at how Tokyo Metropolitan University's robot climbs ladders, bringing robots one rung closer to world domination:

SEE ALSO: From 'Jeopardy' to poker to reading comprehension, robots have managed to beat humans in all of these contests in the past decade

The robot weighs in at just over 15 pounds, and is equipped with 3D cameras on its head and touch and force sensors on its claws.

The robot has 23 degrees of freedom — specific aspects of its parts can move: five degrees of freedom in each leg, two for the dual laser rangefinder sensors, and one for the head.

The robot uses a neural network to automatically teach itself to balance as it climbs the ladder.

Once at the top of the ladder, the robot uses its rear claws to grip the top rung and shift its weight forward.

The robot was specifically programmed to climb the ladder used in the demonstration video, but researchers plan to teach it to climb a ladder of any dimensions.

While living quadruped animals can climb ladders at an angle, they struggle with vertical ladders, according to IEE Spectrum — but this robot is capable of tackling them.

Watch the full video of the ladder-climbing robot demonstration:

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