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I see lots of "moving ball robots" here on half-bakery, so I think it's about time to post my own, slightly-different rolling ball robot idea before somebody beats me to it. :)
Spacemoggy's design looks very much like mine: six (or more) nitinol (or motor-contracted) strings inside a hollow, semi-rigid
sphere. The difference is that the sphere is deformable and no central weight is required. Instead, the ball rolls because it is squashed in such a way that it will fall over to that side. I think, with enough wires and a smart-enough computer, a natural rolling motion in any direction could be achieved on a flat surface. With the right material for the outer shell, it could scale hills.
Furthermore, this design could also support a bouncing behavior like Ling's wonderfully-elegant Self-Bouncing Ball. But the bouncing behavior could be more complex.
A couple of applications include robotic explorers and toys. There's no reason a simple version of this should be expensive.
Spacemoggy's Rolling Robot Moon Explorer
[joee, Jan 09 2005]
Ling's Self-Bouncing Ball
[joee, Jan 09 2005]
||I think you would need more than 6 springs. The more you have the better it could steer. 20 would be symmetric and not too elaborate. The springs would be like doorbells: rods pulled in by an electromagnet, then popped back out by the spring. 20 doorbells + battery + ball: ~$60? I think you could build the skeleton for this thing out of one of those rod/connector kits, with a solid center to mount the doorbells on. The solid center could even ring when the dorrbell rod popped back in an hit it. If it were the shape of a faceted icosahedron it could have a different tone for each doorbell: each face would be tuned. I envision the remote control for the toy version to look like the rollerball control from Missile Command. Ok, ok.
A fine first idea, and you have linked up similar ideas in the best HB mode. Welcome.
||Sorry, the most you can do is get it to not roll down hills too much unless you have very heavy weights on the outside that you can move around.