Treaded robot modified for stair climbing

[Mike Li] is showing of his stair climbing robot. It’s a bot that cruises around on a pair of tank treads, but some interesting modifications gave him the traction needed to ascend a flight of stairs without slipping backward.

The image above shows this process in great detail. You can see the unaltered treads leaving the top of the image. In the foreground, strips of rubber-backed rug add some sticking power to the otherwise smooth surface. To really stop the bot from slipping, segments of CAT5 cable have been screwed to the tread at regular intervals, holding the carpeting tightly in the process.

You can see in the video after the break the little robot has no problem with rough terrain. The design was inspired by the iRobot Packbot which has a set of treaded appendages sticking off the front end. These ensure that the vertical face of an obstacle, such as the beginnings of a staircase, can still be reached by the main set of treads.


  1. bty says:

    i bet it would climb the stairs equally well without those 2 appendages on the front.

  2. tony says:

    The main thing those front tracks help with is getting onto (parallel with) the stairs. They also help with controlling the center of gravity. A manipulator can also be used to control the center of gravity. However, a robot with fixed tracks, like the Dragon Runner 20, will climb stairs without a problem as well.

    What is really important is that there is a portion of the treads that touches the edge of the stair. That is what allows the robot to begin climbing.

  3. slincolne says:

    I’m impressed with your patience. It must have been so boring working through drilling and fixing all the cat-5 sections to the tracks.

    Well done !

  4. Hmmm says:

    I’m with bty on this.
    Simple outreaching skids or a forward manipulator / larger diameter front wheels, and/or longer wheelbase may have solved the problem with a bit less work.

    Nice toy though.

  5. hic says:

    wow its powered by sandwiches!
    just impressed with the Tupperware on its back thats all.

  6. ColinB says:

    We should have a CAT5 cable hack contest. There are so many things it can be used for, and this is one of the most creative yet.

  7. Brammers says:

    Reminds me of the “unditching beam” carried on Mk IV tanks in the first world war. They were basically railway sleepers that were hooked onto the tracks when they needed to climb out of shell holes or trenches and dragged underneath the tank by moving the trancks.

  8. BrainSlugs83 says:

    Now you just need to spray paint the treads black again and they’ll look AND function the way treads are supposed to.

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