Departmental Papers (ESE)


This paper describes the development of a legged robot designed for general locomotion of complex terrain but specialized for dynamical, high-speed climbing of a uniformly convex cylindrical structure, such as an outdoor telephone pole. This robot, the RiSE V3 climbing machine—mass 5.4 kg, length 70 cm, excluding a 28 cm tail appendage—includes several novel mechanical features, including novel linkage designs for its legs and a non-backdrivable, energy-dense power transmission to enable high-speed climbing. We summarize the robot’s design and document a climbing behavior that achieves rapid ascent of a wooden telephone pole at 21 cm/s, a speed previously unachieved—and, we believe, heretofore impossible—with a robot of this scale. The behavioral gait of the robot employs the mechanical design to propel the body forward while passively maintaining yaw, pitch, and roll stability during climbing locomotion. The robot’s general-purpose legged design coupled with its specialized ability to quickly gain elevation and park at a vertical station silently with minimal energy consumption suggest potential applications including search and surveillance operations as well as ad hoc networking.

Document Type

Conference Paper

Subject Area

GRASP, Kodlab

Date of this Version



G. C. Haynes, Alex Khripin, Goran Lynch, Jon Amory, Aaron Saunders, Alfred A. Rizzi, and D. E. Koditschek , "Rapid Pole Climbing with a Quadrupedal Robot," IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. May 2009

Copyright 2009 IEEE.
Reprinted from Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2009 (ICRA 2009)

This material is posted here with permission of the IEEE. Such permission of the IEEE does not in any way imply IEEE endorsement of any of the University of Pennsylvania's products or services. Internal or personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution must be obtained from the IEEE by writing to By choosing to view this document, you agree to all provisions of the copyright laws protecting it.



Date Posted: 20 May 2009