Saturday, August 12, 2006


Via Slashdot, we get this news about Ballbot developed by the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University:

... "Ballbot" is a self-contained, battery-operated, omnidirectional robot that balances dynamically on a single urethane-coated metal sphere. It weighs 95 pounds and is the approximate height and width of a person. Because of its long, thin shape and ability to maneuver in tight spaces, it has the potential to function better than current robots can in environments with people.

Ballbot's creator, Robotics Research Professor Ralph Hollis, says the robot represents a new paradigm in mobile robotics. [...] "We wanted to create a robot that can maneuver easily and is tall enough to look you in the eye," Hollis said. "Ballbot is tall and skinny, with a much higher center of gravity than traditional wheeled robots. Because it is omnidirectional, it can move easily in any direction without having to turn first."

Ballbot has an onboard computer that reads balance information from its internal sensors, activating rollers that mobilize the ball on which it moves — a system that is essentially an inverse mouse-ball drive. When Ballbot is not in operation, it stands in place on three retractable legs.