Climbing an Omni Pole

A pole made of omni wheels. How are you climbing this?

Fun fact: this is over $1600 of omni wheels.


Grappling hook into the top.
Grips that go between the wheels and interface with the solid parts.
Jam the rollers.

Don’t make me get MORE creative.

1 Like

That’s cheating

How are you lining this up? Are they tapered and/or compliant so that driving forwards snugs them in?

Interesting, how so?

No restrictions were given. Therefore, ANY method is valid. Including a grappling hook. grabs drone Or a skycrane–well actually that last one isn’t technically climbing.

To be determined. But compliant is one possible option, tapered is possible.

Depends a lot on the mechanics. But I can think of a few ways. Wedges, for one, though they’d be rather small and thin. It may be possible to contact rollers on two different levels at the same time, in such a way that neither can move.


MAP torch to melt the pole into a solid hunk of plastic. Then climb it with wheels like any other pole.

Never do I ever want to be in the position of writing a problem that will be given to 20,000 VERY smart people to solve.


Fair enough. I appreciate your creativity


Declare the bottom of the pole is the top that way you start at the finish which means you made it to the top.


Consider this a mild educational point–we’re engineers, we’re trained to think outside the box (in some cases literally). When setting requirements, one needs to be fairly careful in how to phrase those requirements, in order to either encourage or avoid the creativity.

Actually, the fewer requirements a project has, sometimes the harder it is. Sometimes a lot of extra requirements can push everybody into a particular solution for a particular problem–I’ve seen this quite a few times in FRC when a lot of teams had similar mechanisms. (2018 for box gripping comes to mind.) But, if you’ve got fewer requirements then you can get overloaded with “but this then this then that and the other”–and it gets more difficult.

If I were to rephrase the intended challenge: “Climb the omni pole to the top without contacting the top surface, while remaining in contact with the pole.” There are various ways to do the challenge design to make both the requirements (contact with the pole, and no contact with the top surface) implied rather than stated.


two hobbed climbing wheels with grooves that match the rollers, held tightly across the diameter of the omni wheels (with an over-center locking mechanism). The climbing wheels can’t “roll” [edit] “slide” down the omni rollers because doing so would push the climbing wheels apart. Spin the climbing wheels with a big ol’ gearbox to climb.

(fun brain challenge, thanks)


Tacking on to this…

The best solutions I’ve seen while doing engineering usually get their start when someone asks the customer “ok, but what do you really want?”. It provides the opportunity to rephrase the problem statement at a higher level, in turn opening the door to a more broad search through the solution space. This usually leads to better answers.

I’ll suppose the purpose of the question is to get creative answers. If that is so , we are well on our way!

I know a team that has a large supply of loctite. Could also be useful for mitigating the slippery-factor of the rollers.

Note most of my proposals so far involve transforming the unknown problem into one with known solutions. That’s also intentional.


Thanks for sharing this, I agree with you 100%. This was just an out of the blue thought that I thought I’d share as a joke so I kept the original post brief - I see now my first reply came off a little rude. I’ll add some more details the next time something like this comes to me!

I think I understand the first two sentences but I can’t visualize this part. Could you help me out?

I get a ladder, climb up it, and touch the top. Oh, you meant a robot? An elevator with a rotating appendage to get off the rollers would be neat. Or some giant robot arms? Reminds me of a character from some really old movie…

Maybe some treads that are angled to the pole. Like 30 or 45 degree from the pole. The robot would spin up and the angle would possibly help with the sliding

This is a good though experiment


Brought to you in beautiful Powerpoint Vision:

The orange climbing wheels would be held by a motor/brake/ratchet. They can’t slide down the blue omni wheels because they are held together into the grooves between omni wheels by the green link.


Elevator to put a hook on the top and then winch up.

Some sort of multicopter that can fit around the pole in a way that counts as grabbing it. From there, it climbs the pole by flying upwards normally and the Omni rollers help it go up smoothly.

This is one of the points made in “The Design of Everyday Things” the book we just finished in the FRC Mentor’s Book Club.

That’s a “Kobayashi Maru” solution.


“I hate to lose” C.K.

1 Like

Smart, using the rollers on the wheels to your advantage to climb up, then I assume you just apply some constant power to hold yourself in place (assuming you don’t slip)