[an error occurred while processing this directive] Miniature Mobile Robots Group - MOBOTS

Biorobotics Laboratory BioRob

Inspection Systems

Francesco Mondada, Pierre Noirat, Frédéric Rochat, Patrick Schoeneich


There is a growing interest for the development of miniature mobile robots for the inspection of complex infrastructures, such as pipes, turbines and other industrial installations. The LSRO1 is involved in several projects for the development of this type of devices.


Cy-mag3D is a miniature climbing robot with advanced mobility and magnetic adhesion. It is very compact: a cylindrical shape with 28 mm of diameter and 62 mm of width. Its design is very simple: two wheels, hence two degrees of freedom, and an advanced magnetic circuit. Despite its simplicity, Cy-mag3D has an amazing mobility on ferromagnetic sheets. From a horizontal sheet, it can make transition to almost any intersecting sheet from 10° to 360° - we baptize the last one surface flip. It passes inner and outer straight corners in any almost inclination of the gravity. Cy-mag3D opens new possibilities to use mobile robots for industrial inspection with stringent size limitations, as found in generators. A patent is pending on this system and the paper describing the robot won the best paper award "innovation award 2010 - for practical innovation in the field of robotics" at Clawar 2010 in Nagoya.



Tripillar is a miniature climbing robot, 96 x 46 x 64 mm3, able to climb ferromagnetic surfaces and to make inner plane to plane transition using only two degrees of freedom. This robot combines magnetic caterpillars and magnets to climb planar ferromagnetic surfaces. Two triangular tracks are mounted in a differential drive mode, which allows squid steering and on spot turning. Exploiting the particular geometry and magnetic properties of this arrangement, Tripillar is able to transit between intersecting surfaces. The intersection angle ranges from -10° to 90° on the pitch angle of the coordinate system of the robot regardless of the orientation of gravity. A possible path is to move from ground to ceiling and back. This achievement opens new avenues for mobile robotics inspection of ferromagnetic industrial structure with stringent size restriction, like the one encountered in power plants.


Tubulo is a train-like miniature climbing inspection robot for ferromagnetic tubes. Using magnetic wheels, it climbs in tubes of 25 mm of diameter and bigger in any orientation, and pass bends with curvatures above 150 mm in some cases. It has embedded electronics and energy, and can transmit images through a cable. The train-like configuration exhibit an interesting example of modularity for inspection tools. Applications are in tubes inspections as found in power plant boilers for example.

Magnetic Switchable Device (MSD)

Working principle of Magnetic Switchable Device

A Magnetic Switchable Device (MSD) is a ferromagnetic circuit using permanent magnets where the flux can circulate between different paths when its configuration is changed. This routes or cancels the flux trough specific surfaces, and thus turns on or off adhesion forces. We present classic and innovative magnetic configuration to realize powerful MSD. We designed and prototyped some miniature systems and give their characteristics. Finally various robotics applications for gripper, anchor and climbing robot are unveiled where the MSD solution has proved to be advantageous.


Sept 1st, 2010: Our paper at CLAWAR ("Cy-mag3D: a simple and miniature climbing robot with advance mobility in ferromagnetic environment") got the best paper award "innovation award 2010 - for practical innovation in the field of robotics".

March, 15, 2010: Our collaboration with ALSTOM won the EURON/EUROP Technology Transfer Award - the most prestigious European technology transfer award in robotics! It is the first time that a Swiss company has won this award.


Filing Country: CH (first filed)
Filing date: 27/11/2009
Inventors: Frederic Rochat, Patrick Schoneich, Francesco Mondada, Roland Moser



Francesco Mondada

Laboratoire de Systèmes Robotiques
Station 9
CH-1015 Lausanne
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Tél: +41 (0) 21 693 73 57
Fax: +41 (0) 21 693 78 07