Building two-wheeled balancing robots has become very popular the last few of years. A CMU press release reveals a new balancing robot that may render all those two-wheeled bots obsolete. Ballbot balances on a single round ball, much like an upside down trackball. The tall, 95 pound robot balances dynamically while moving omnidirectionally on most surfaces, including carpet. Ballbot was built by Ralph Hollis and funded by the National Science Foundation.
" Our research goal is to gain a deeper understanding of how such dynamic agility can be achieved in mobile machines interacting with people and operating in normal home and workplace environments. We are developing novel dynamically-stable rolling machine and walking machine research platforms to study this issue. We will evaluate the efficacy of this type of dynamic locomotion in the context of human environments.
Significant insights will be gained from this research toward producing agile motive platforms which in the future could be combined with the research community's ongoing work in perception, navigation, and cognition, to yield truly capable intelligent mobile robots for use in physical contact with people. Such robots could provide many useful services, especially for the elderly or physically challenged, in their everyday work and home environments. Many other uses such as entry into hostile environments, rescue in buildings, and surveillance to safeguard people or property can be envisioned. "