We are excited to announce that a one-of-a-kind custom robot designed and built by a local Cal Poly student is now playing a vital role in our zipline canopy tours.

Painted gold and nicknamed “the Golden Retriever,” the remote-controlled robot retrieves guests who stop short of the landing on the 1,300-foot zip line called “The Renegade.” It is the first robot of its kind in the zipline world.

While most guests travel easily to the end of our Renegade zipline, occasionally strong afternoon breezes cause them to stop just short of the landing. Prior to the robot, the guides had to hike down a series of switchback trails and manually deliver a rope and pulley to the guest, then pull them to the landing.

“Using the manual rope system was physically taxing for the guides and it detracted from the experience for our guests,” says Margarita Adventures’ proprietor Karl Wittstrom. “The robot is amazing, and it’s saving us a lot of time and energy. It’s a real conversation piece with our guests, too.”

The robot was designed and built by Adam Heard, who is majoring in mechanical engineering with a concentration in mechatronics (robotics) at Cal Poly. Karl met Adam through a mutual acquaintance and asked if he would be interested in helping devise a mechanical solution for retrieving guests.

“At first, I wasn’t sure it was plausible,” Adam says. “I couldn’t find any examples of anything like it. But I did additional research, ran some of the math and decided that I could pull it off.”

Adam used a software program to render 3-D models of his ideas. Once he was satisfied with his computations and design, he embarked on building the robot. He ordered the motors and other internal parts, and personally machined the metal casing to fit the required dimensions.

“I was blown away with what Adam  created,” Karl says. “I won’t be surprised to see his name associated with many more technological solutions.”

Thanks, Adam, for your exciting and innovative contribution to our California zipline tour experience!