Feeds

back to article Spaniards deploy self-propelled ROBOT BALLS

Yet another boon has been conferred upon suffering humanity by boffins in Spain, who have announced the successful deployment of motorised self-rolling spherical robots intended for "missions on wild environments". The rumbling ball-bot design has been dubbed ROSPHERE by its inventors at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Bronze badge
Gimp

But...

What happens when they encounter a flight of stairs?

I reckon this one would be easy to foil if they decide to rise against their masters...

3
0
Coat

What's spanish for "exterminate"?

But they're Spanish - which is precisely why no-one will expect it...

14
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

Re: What's spanish for "exterminate"?

Wrong TV show

These ballbots are, of course, prototypes for "Rover". I am not a number, I am a free man!

6
0
Bronze badge

Re: What's spanish for "exterminate"?

exterminarlos or exterminar

0
1
Windows

Edit subtitle: "Motorised automatic bollocks to prowl Iberian fields DOWNHILL"

Stairs? They have an inclination of typically 40%

Any incline above 20% will already stop these balls, there's just not enough space inside the sphere to move the centre of mass sufficiently. So for a golfball-sized sphere, a matchbox is insurmountable; for a football-sized one, a regular kerb (or a furrow in a field, more to the point);

Yet a staircase is laughed at by an apartment-sized spherebot (though I may have played too much katamaru damashii.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: What's spanish for "exterminate"?

You beat me to it, first thing that came to my mind as well.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: But...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Bb_b6LqMrI

0
0
Bronze badge
Alert

Re: What's spanish for "exterminate"?

Shurely these are Toclafane, though?

0
0
Terminator

Rise, Rise Rise of the machines?

Machine trundling along the inside of a ball is one thing, but If they could violently change its centre of gravity. That would be really cool! Bounce over obstacles. Self bouncing ball anyone?

2
0
Anonymous Coward

The Ruum is coming

Time to lose weight folks ...

2
0
Terminator

The Prisoner

Ballbots? How soon before we can have Rovers chasing hapless humans along the beaches of north Wales?

28
0
Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: The Prisoner

How soon?

That would be telling!

5
0
Anonymous Coward

We already got one...

Hamster powered, surely?

http://www.geek.com/science/rosphere-a-spherical-robot-perfect-for-exploration-missions-1559814/

0
0
Gold badge
Meh

Shifting weights?

Seems a bit complex.

You're sort of looking at the mechanism of a mechanical mouse turned inside out. So the ball could be driven by rollers rather than the other way round

For carrying some kind of non contact sensing package (optical, radio or magnetic) this has some attractions.

Pushing a vacuum? Ironing clothes? Cooking breakfast? Not so much.

0
0
Silver badge

Nothing new

Ballbots have been around for many years, but mostly as novelties.

The reason you seldom see them is that they are absolutely crap on steep angles where balancing wheeled robots perform better.

2
0
Silver badge
Big Brother

Golf

Hmm. I think someone needs to take a close look at Miguel Ángel Jiménez's balls.

0
0
Silver badge
Meh

I am not a number

I am a free man...

3
0
Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Re: I am not a number

"I am not a number

I am a free man..."

GCHQ reckon your comment was both plural and spherical.

3
0
Bronze badge
Meh

Re: I am not a number

I had to scroll far too far down to find this. We must be getting old...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: I am not a number

Still waiting for the Basil the rat and siberian hamster comments ...

0
0
Bronze badge
Devil

Reliable? Let's hope so!

If this load of bollocks in the fields operates like most electro/mechanical items here, owners will be calling out a technician on a regular basis.

In order to carry out his work he will then use anything of yours hanging around; items of good clothing as rag, tools which he will either break or throw in the back of his van or a valuable bowl as a receptacle for oil or other rubbish.

Finally for no reason other than to test his hammering skills he will bash a hole in an arbitary wall and push the resulting rubble into a pile with his foot and thoughtfully leave it for you to clear up in your own preferred manner.

Finally his head office will present you with an astronomical bill charging upwards of €50 an hour for the sterling work he has done.

Oh! by the way the bollockbot will still be non functional!

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Do they pop up a humanoid torso, as per the dwarven balls in Skyrim?

1
0
Terminator

80s ThrowbackS

Remember the Zeroids from Terrahawks? Now to watch out for the Cubes

8
0
Thumb Up

Sargeant Major vs 101

Oh yes my lovely boys. Available on Youtube too!

2
0
Meh

Re: 80s ThrowbackS

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbSK06OTMH4#t=8m04s

// icon looks like a Zeroid

0
0
Silver badge

Optional

A handy toy for dogs, then. Saves the effort on the part of the owner when it comes to actually throwing the ball - let it run (roll) away from the dog of its own accord.

0
0
Gold badge
Coat

Two hundred years from now.....

Six people injured in that annual traditional Spanish event, the running of the balls.

12
0
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Two hundred years from now.....

The carnage was awful. "we have all seen too many body bags and ball sacks" said Kissinger's Head,

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Two hundred years from now.....

The rolling of the balls, Shirley?

0
0
Meh

These are Zeroids, imagined by Gerry Anderson

http://www.turbosquid.com/3d-models/3d-zeroid-animation/559945

1
0
Terminator

Nice try Madrid

You still won't get it off Barca.

1
0
Yag
Happy

Dammit... need some vintage rock now...

I've got big balls, I've got big balls

And they're such big balls, fancy big balls

And he's got big balls, And she's got big balls,

But those boffins have got the biggest balls of them all!

1
0
Anonymous Coward

>"Motorised automatic bollocks"

In an unusual reversal, I mis-read that as "bullocks"!

0
0
Bronze badge
Big Brother

This articel is skimpy...

... we want information.

1
0
Bronze badge

Cojones de acero

I for one welcome our new overlords with their balls of steel!

0
0
Bronze badge

Sphero

Sounds (a little) like this.

1
0

Can we put them to work clearing land mines?

1
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

You mean like this?

http://gizmodo.com/5953062/this-wind+powered-rolling-tentacle-ball-can-clear-landmines

0
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

How will they keep their balls clean?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6teWUd92AWQ

0
0
FAIL

Old news

http://xkcd.com/413/

3
0
Silver badge
Happy

Consumer Ballbot

Our consumer balls are only available in blue.

0
0
Coat

I am beneath... enemy scrotum.

Someone had to say it.

0
0
Bronze badge

Believe it or not

I already invented one of these years ago, though I never built a prototype. It's a pretty obvious design, though, and I'm sure it's been "invented" many times before.

To be honest, laziness played a large part in my not building the thing, although lack of experience in electronics was also a large factor. I'd wanted to incorporate two features that, after a bit of thinking, it was clear that I'd have to learn a non-trivial amount of electronic circuit design (and source the necessary components) to implement, so I never went any further than the imagining stage.

First, I wanted to use a standard radio controller, but I wanted the ball to have a network of receivers (at least 4 arranged in a tetrahedron, but an inscribed cube, other platonic solids or buckyballs would work too). My thinking was that as each of the (directional) antennae would be at a different orientation to the incoming radio signal, each of them would be receiving the signal at a different strength, so it should be possible to triangulate, roughly, where the RC signal was coming from. The point of this was so that if I pushed the RC stick towards the ball, it would travel away from me, and vice-versa. All motion would basically be relative to a line between the centres of the controller and the ball. That seemed to make most sense in the absence of some kind of external positioning system (like GPS, but finer-grained). It would mean you'd have to know roughly where the ball is in relation to your position if you want to steer it meaningfully, though.

The other tricky bit would have been coordinating the movement of the weights within the ball. It's (fairly) trivial to shift the weights(*) in the right sequence if you want the thing to move in a distinct set of "steps" (with it settling down to a new centre of gravity before applying the next movement), but if you want it to act more like a ball and move smoothly you need to factor in all the moments of inertia in three dimensions as well as the characteristics of the motors that move your weights in and out relative to the centre of the ball (how fast and how accurately they can move, where they are at any given moment, and even the lag between sending the movement command and being able to act on it). If you want variable speed control you need to be able to measure the current moments of inertia (using accelerometers that weren't that cheap or readily available at the time) and adjust how far you shift the weights when you're already going fast (like an ice skater can move their arms in and out to adjust speed when spinning). Mathematically, it's fairly complicated, but doable. Unfortunately, as I said, I lacked the skill in electronics to be able to translate the maths into a proper control circuit. The various feedbacks among inertial sensors, current and projected centre of gravity and the sensor array used to triangulate where the user is makes it all very complicated, particularly if the thing is moving at high speed. Depending on the size of the ball, you might have gone through a significant fraction of complete revolution by the time the circuit has figured out what it should do next, by which time that calculation is completely wrong for the current state. Quality, high-speed sensors is a big part in overcoming that problem, but at the time I didn't have access to them. Nowadays, I guess a mobile phone has most of the sensors needed for this kind of thing though it still needs something better than GPS for telemetry.

So, anyway, I've got to tip my hat to these guys. I'm not sure how they've implemented their telemetry or whether they've cracked the problem of controlling the ball at high speeds, but it's really nice to see that someone has had a proper go at implementing this kind of thing.

*a note on weights: another alternative form of locomotion would be to have various pistons spread around the surface of the sphere. By pushing them out and retracting them in the right order (and with the right amount of force) it should be quite easy to get the thing to move quite quickly. It does sound like a fairly industrial-level implementation, though, since you'd need more pistons than you would internal weights. There's also the problem of legs breaking off or getting stuck on/in things that doesn't happen if the ball is self-contained and only contains weights and motors. On the plus side, if you have pressure (weight) sensors on the ends of the legs, that's a pretty useful sensor to have for detecting not only which side is up, but also for collision detection.

The other form of locomotion that I considered, and I'm quite proud of, is to use two-way memory metal to construct the shell of the bot. The idea is that in one state each of the wires forms a strut of a platonic solid (eg, a dodecahedron), while in the other state the overall shape of the ball is deformed at the bottom and it tips over onto the next face. By alternatively lengthening and shortening struts in the right order, it should be possible to get it to roll in whatever direction we want. The beauty of this sort of bot (provided it could actually be built, and I haven't overlooked some crucial problem) is that the shell (and a few sensors, power sources and other electronics distributed evenly around the shell) essentially is the robot. Taken to the extreme, it should also potentially be possible to use the memory metal itself as the communications network medium so there'd be no unsightly wires or internal circuits even visible. If someone wanted to try this, they could build it as a set of nodes (vertices) containing the processing parts and then the user could build it simply by training the metal struts and building up the dodecahedron out of nodes and memory metal struts. That's one variation of this idea that I would really love to see someone implement!

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Believe it or not

An easier way to drive a sphere is to use a pair of continuous rotation servomotors mounted between two soft rubber drive wheels, mounted with the batteries so as to be below the sphere's centre of gravity, attached to the wheels and motor frame you would have a frame with four mouse ball type bearings set equidistant apart, three laterally and one vertically to provide position within the sphere and traction pressure to the wheels. Using the direction of the wheels either together or in opposition as in a skid steer will provide direction. The servos with a suitable processor and a flux gate compass will provide telemetry, if the robot is designed to cover reasonably large distances, GPS way points can be used as referents.

Unless there is prior art for this design I claim it as my intellectual property!

0
0
Bronze badge
Coat

"Balls!" cried the Queen...

...etc. etc. etc.

But, seriously, folks -- robot balls? I didn't know robots had genitalia!

Thanks, you've been wonderful. I'm here all week. Enjoy the buffet.

0
0
Happy

Terrorize Target stores!

Those familiar with the Target department store chain will know the knee-high red balls they have on the sidewalks by the doors. I've daydreamed for YEARS of replacing a few with remote-control balls like this for general messing-with-people duty. Follow shoppers around, chase cars, run over cigarettes people throw down to extinguish them, etc. Never had the free time or money, meself.

0
0
Terminator

"The robot turned out to be friendly and harmless in its use for this application."

I'd sort of expect that.

0
0
Gimp

Snow(den) Balls

Drop a few in Ecuador, see if they can tag Snowden...

0
0

the 'mechatronic' system

15 years after getting an HND in Mechatronics I've sen the term used in the wild! yay

0
0
Zot
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Videos

It works quite well, and it's quiet...

http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=relmfu&v=tdy6WyWYUxM

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5mvr--XEeT4&feature=relmfu

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.