The list of places we will be safe from robot attack continues to shrink, as the ROCR robot, courtesy of the University of Utah, can now efficiently scale walls. The diminutive bot can climb over six inches per second.

The ROCR is far from the first robot to pull off a wall climb, nor the fastest—but what's so impressive about the project is the little guy's outstanding efficiency. The ROCR is able to achieve 20% efficiency, as defined by the ratio of work done to energy consumed. This might sound low, but keep in mind that a car engine achieves around the same score.

The team behind ROCR designed a pendulum-like tail to hurdle it up walls. As the robot's center of gravity shifts back and forth with the weighted tail, it lets go of the surface it's clinging to with one of its claws, allowing it to swing upward in the same manner as a gibbon swinging through trees.

For now, the ROCR is confined to carpeted walls, but the researchers are working on adapting it to other surfaces—while keeping efficiency as the top design priority. And why such a great emphasis on efficiency? "Higher climbing efficiencies will extend the battery life of a self-contained, autonomous robot and expand the variety of tasks the robot can perform," explains William Provancher assistant professor at the University of Utah and the head of the ROCR project. [Gizmag]