ROSPHERE: A spherical robot for exploration missions

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Posted June 21, 2013
A working Rosphere at a maize crop.

A working Rosphere at a maize crop.

Researchers at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain, have developed a robot prototype by using an unconventional motion mode to conduct missions on wild environments.

The Robotics and Cybernetics Research Group from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has special interest in developing robots able to live in environments where the motion can be a difficulty due to uneven ground. They studied, designed and built a land mobile vehicle that has an unconventional motion.

The result of this work is ROSPHERE, a robot without wheels or legs which has a single spherical form that, literally, scrolls by itself to conduct the missions and being inherently stable. The robot has proved its potential for diverse applications during the assessment.

How can a single ball be able to move apparently without any external force? In this case, the performance is based on a principle of relative simplicity involving the understanding of an essential physic concept: the center of mass.

The running of the “spherical robot” can be compared to the ball game thought for hamsters. In that case, as the hamster moves it changes the location of the center of mass of the system by destabilizing the spherical robot and consequently generating motion.

In general, the numerous motion systems of spherical robots can be understood as alternative ways to replace the little animal with a mechanical system which is complemented with electronics instruments and programs in a way that, as a joint, the “mechatronic” system may induce motion of a ball in a controlled manner.

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