Robots can look amazing, or they can look about as simple, and fundamentally robotic. But, either way, they can usually do some pretty impressive things if the right mind is behind them. This time around, while it may not seem all that exciting, one scientist has created a robot that can successfully balance on a ball, as it moves around on the floor. There's even a video to prove it, if you don't believe us. Just take a look after the jump.
Dr. Masaaki Kumagai is the Director of the Robot Development Engineering Laboratory at the Tohoku Gakuin University in Tagajo City, Japan, and he's a master at building robots. He's manufactured them in almost every capacity imaginable: quadruped robots; bipedal robots; robots that crawl; and believe it or not, robots on skates. After a student came up to him and said that he should build a robot that balances on a ball, Dr. Kumagai agreed to do it. And, sure enough, he did it.
The robot in question is driven by three omnidirectional wheels, which allows it to not only stand still, but also move around in multiple directions while on the ball. As for the blue thing it's riding on, well that's a plastic-coated bowling ball, and apparently the robot is already being used as a little mobile transport for trays. However, it can also be used to carry around heavier objects for people, as you can see in the image above, while it carries around a cinder block. It may seem like a simple enough idea, and the robot may not win any aesthetic prizes, but like we said, when handled by the right individual, a robot can do some pretty extraordinary things. Just imagine a construction worker travelling around with one of these things, carrying, or even helping to carry items too large or heavy to lift on their own.
[via Spectrium Ieee]