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Deformable Sphere Robot

Deform a ball to get it to roll and bounce.
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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.

joee, Jan 09 2005

Spacemoggy's Rolling Robot Moon Explorer Rolling_20Robot_20Moon_20Explorer
[joee, Jan 09 2005]

Ling's Self-Bouncing Ball Self_20bouncing_20ball
[joee, Jan 09 2005]

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       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.
bungston, Jan 09 2005
  

       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.
Voice, Apr 22 2008
  
      
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