The Gibbot

The Gibbot is a dynamic climbing robot developed for experimental validation of estimation and control of hybrid mechanical locomotion systems.  The Gibbot locomotes on a vertical wall and consists of two links, each equipped with a “hand,” and a single powered rotary joint connecting the two links.  A hand can clamp to the wall at any time, with the link freely pivoting about the clamp.  The robot locomotes by actuating the joint motor and switching between four dynamic regimes: one hand clamped, the other hand clamped, both hands free (free flight), or both hands clamped (rendering the Gibbot stationary).  Our Gibbot prototype climbs on a steel wall, so we use electromagnets mounted in rotary bearings to implement the hand clamping mechanism.  Due to the availability of “handholds” at any location on the wall, the Gibbot is capable of a wide variety of gaits, each consisting of a cyclic sequence of transitions among these regimes.

 

The Gibbot in Undergraduate Research

The Gibbot is currently an undergraduate research project.  It is being built from the ground up by an evolving team of undergraduates whose goal is to get the robot performing gymnastic on a vertical steel wall.  This requires addressing issues in mechanical and electrical design, controls, planning, and sensing.  The group's work (CAD model, embedded code, vision library, and more) is available as open-source and is hosted on GitHub: https://github.com/nxrlab/gibbot.

The Gibbot initially started off as a class project in 2009 when it was known as the Monkeybot.  In 2010, Kinea Design, llc. redesigned the robot giving it a rugged and stylish black and purple exterior.  During the 2014-2015 academic year, the Gibbot was generously supported by an Alumnae of Northwestern University grant, which provided financial support for the undergraduate project.

 

The Gibbot Out in the Wild

  • The Gibbot has been at the 2012 and 2014 Museum of Science and Industry's National Robotics Week.  In 2012, it was a part of the NxR lab's live demos at the museum.  In 2014, it was part of the student presentations given at the museum.  The title of the talk was "How I Met My Robot (or: how an open-ended research topic turns into a specific robot)."
  • In 2012, the IEEE Spectrum Magazine wrote an online article about the robbot: "Gibbot Training to Swing Like Monkey."  The news also made appearances in Popular Science, Slate, and other online news blogs.