Autonomous stair-climbing with miniature jumping robots

Sascha A. Stoeter, Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The problem of vision-guided control of miniature mobile robots is investigated. Untethered mobile robots with small physical dimensions of around 10 cm or less do not permit powerful onboard computers because of size and power constraints. These challenges have, in the past, reduced the functionality of such devices to that of a complex remote control vehicle with fancy sensors. With the help of a computationally more powerful entity such as a larger companion robot, the control loop can be closed. Using the miniature robot's video transmission or that of an observer to localize it in the world, control commands can be computed and relayed to the inept robot. The result is a system that exhibits autonomous capabilities. The framework presented here solves the problem of climbing stairs with the miniature Scout robot. The robot's unique locomotion mode, the jump, is employed to hop one step at a time. Methods for externally tracking the Scout are developed. A large number of real-world experiments are conducted and the results discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-325
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part B: Cybernetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received March 2, 2004; revised September 28, 2004 and December 28, 2004. This work was supported in part by Microsoft Corporation, by the National Science Foundation under Grants CNS-0224363 and CNS-0324864, and by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Microsystems Technology Office (Distributed Robotics), ARPA Order G155, Program Code 8H20, issued by DARPA/CMD under Contract MDA972-98-C-0008. This paper was recommended by Associate Editor H. Zhang.


  • Computer vision
  • External observer
  • Jumping robot
  • Mobile robots
  • Vision-based control


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