Departmental Papers (ESE)


This paper reviews a template for dynamical climbing originating in biology, explores its stability properties in a numerical model, and presents empirical data from a physical prototype as evidence of the feasibility of adapting the dynamics of the template to robot that runs vertically upward.

The recently proposed pendulous climbing model abstracts remarkable similarities in dynamic wall scaling behavior exhibited by radically different animal species. The present paper’s first contribution summarizes a numerical study of this model to hypothesize that these animals’ apparently wasteful commitments to lateral oscillations may be justified by a significant gain in the dynamical stability and, hence, the robustness of their resulting climbing capability.

The paper’s second contribution documents the design and offers preliminary empirical data arising from a physical instantiation of this model. Notwithstanding the substantial differences between the proposed bio-inspired template and this physical manifestation, initial data suggest the mechanical climber may be capable of reproducing both the motions and ground reaction forces characteristic of dynamical climbing animals. Even without proper tuning, the robot’s steady state trajectories manifest a substantial exchange of kinetic and potential energy, resulting in vertical speeds of 0.30 m/s (0.75 bl/s) and claiming its place as the first bio-inspired dynamical legged climbing platform.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Subject Area

GRASP, Kodlab

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Robotics: Science and Systems III

Start Page


Last Page


Bib Tex

@inproceedings{Clark_Goldman_Lin_Lynch_Chen_Komsuoglu_Full_Koditschek_2007, title={Design of a Bio-inspired Dynamical Vertical Climbing Robot}, url={}, booktitle={Robotics: Science and Systems III Atlanta, Georgia}, author={Clark, J. and Goldman, D. I. and Lin, P. C. and Lynch, G. and Chen, T. S. and Komsuoglu, H. and Full, R. J. and Koditschek, D. E.}, year={2007} }



Date Posted: 17 December 2020

This document has been peer reviewed.