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Mobile home service robots are a category of the future intelligent devices that are actively being developed in the Far East, the United States and the EU. The issue is of relevance for many large corporations and a broad number of research institutes. Also Aalto University has been involved in developing futuristic service robot designs.

In this project an innovative solution is presented, in which the robot is transferred to the ceiling from the floor. The movement and availability of energy will be easier. The main challenges in the new design are related to the structures of the light, flexible manipulator and to its 3-dimensional control.

In the project a prototype of ceiling robot, Ceilbot, is designed and implemented. The prototype is planned to be tested in two different environments. The first one could be, for example, the home of a disabled person. The other test environment could be located in an office building, for example at Aalto. The robot will be designed especially for service and maintenance tasks, for example to replace broken ceiling lamps.

For more information: Tomi Ylikorpi , David Leal

Preliminary idea for the Ceilbot

Some ceilbots for inspiration.

See a simple animation of a preliminary sketch of Ceilbot..
(2.6M .avi) avi (1.6M xvid.avi) avi (300k .wmv) wmv

A Related project for inspiration:
Acroboter illustrative pictures and movies

A Ceilbot presentation created by Aalto University:
in Youtube

Current Satus - Spring 2011

See Previous work for past Ceilbot activities at Aalto that had brought us into the current state of the project.

Rail system

The rail system and its mounting grid were assembled in the premises of Aalto Design Factory.

Continuum manipulator

A working demonstration model has been built.

Manipulator demo in Youtube

Energy system

Review on batteries as an energy source has been created.

3D-perception system

Software modules for visual object detection, mapping algorithms, and Kinect application has been created.

2 dof. scanner

Conseptual mechanism design has been presented. Breadboard of electronic control system has been created.

Communications infrastructure

Software modules to establish control through GIMnet infrastructure ( ,, and to simulate robot actions have been created.

Spring 2012

Two Bachelors Theses on Ceilbot

Two Aalto students performed their Bachelors' research on Ceilbot mechanical structure and actuators, and on state of the art in innovative gripper systems.

One Master's Thesis is ongoing on image-processing supported control of the manipulator.

Bachelors Thesis on Ceilbot Grippers.pdf (in Finnish) pdf
Bachelors Thesis on Ceilbot Manipulator.pdf (in Finnish) pdf

Work to be done

Next phases include extensive design and building of actual hardware. Skills in mechanical design, mechatronics, actuators, sensors and control are needed. Supervision of manufacturing work and hands-on assembly work belong into tasks.

Motorized trolley

The trolley to travel along the rails shall be designed and built. The trolley shall carry an on-board mini-computer (already procured), drive motor, motor controller, necessary sensors and needed mechanical hardware (structure, bearings, rollers, brakes....). Mechanical, electrical and communication interfaces need to be adapted to the subsystems.
Work is extensive and shall reserve at least one complete semester with significant time allocation, -preferably two semesters. The topic would be suitable also for a Master's Thesis. A group-work for a commited team can be also considered. Industrial designers are invited to give aesthetic appearance for the device.

2 dof. scanning system mechanics

Mechanical strcuture for a scanning system shall be designed and procured. The scanner shall have 2 degrees of freedom (1 stepper motor + 1 RC-servo, or 2 stepper motors). It will have a large through-hole to allow a Kinect-sensor to rotate around the manipulator. Mechanical design, manufacturing supervision and hands-on assembly skills are needed.
Extensive work shall reserve at least one complete semester with significant time allocation. Industrial designers are invited to give aesthetic appearance for the device.

Continuum manipulator actuators, work is ongoing

The current RC-servos operating the manipulator do not provide enough torque. New gear-motor alternatives shall be searched for, procured and assembled to the existing hardware. Possible mechanical modifications need to be design and manufacturing supervised. Manual hands-on assembly work shall be performed.
Electrical control system and software shall be updated to work with new actuators. New motor controllers shall be procured. Skills in practical electronics, embedded systems, sensors, motor control and control software are needed.
Extensive work is and shall reserve at least one complete semester with significant time allocation. A group-work for a commited team can be also considered.

Continuum manipulator kinematics and inverse kinematics, , work is ongoing

Innovative methods shall be created to calculate/estimate manipulator kinematics and inverse kinematics. Methods may include as for example analytical approach, table look-out or visual positioning. Task is challenging and can be extend into a large study.

Gripper for the manipulator

Innovative gripper systems for the manipulator shall be studied. Gripper must be of low weight, possibly cable-driven having the actuators located in the base. Gripper could be completely independent from the manipulator and it might have its own absolute and/or relative localization system (for example visual measurement). The gripper could be independently controlled through GIMnet interface.

We are looking for students of the Aalto University to carry out project work relating to their own experimental study courses. The intention is that students participate in the project by carrying out any of their own experimental study courses and receive credits and grades from that course. Students must contact the instructor of their own course to see whether the ceiling robot project is suitable for carrying out this course. If necessary, work definition and evaluation of the results is carried out in co-operation with the supervisor of the experimental study course.

Please express your interest to participate by e-mail to Tomi Ylikorpi (

Page updated 5/6/2012