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Mobile ball-shaped robot

The idea of a ball shaped robot started to grow in the summer of 1993. Problems to get financing delayed the project much but at autumn 1995 we decided to finance the project from the laboratory's own resources and at the moment we have the already the third generation prototype ready.

The ball robot is a mobile robot based on a ball structure. It has many nice features, for example it can be made easily liquid and gas proof, it recovers easily from collisions, the cover can be made mechanically durable and the robot can not turn over or fall down. The ball robot has also a couple of interesting applications, one of them is an Internet based virtual laboratory excercise and the other one a home robot acting as a mobile communicator.

The locomotion and motion control systems are fully constructed inside a ball. The control system on board is built on a micro-controller (Siemens). Sensoring include encoders for the motors, attitude sensors and a rate gyro for measuring heading changes. The robot is tele-controlled via radio-link from PC. Dynamical properties, motion control and mechanics have been studied with the prototype robot and simulator. Three different versions for the IDU (Inside Drive Unit), both shown in the picture, have been built thus far. The version shown on the right is mostly used today. This version was mechanically designed and manufactured by our subcontractor Rover Company Ltd (St Petersburg).

Three generations of ball robot mechanics: Middle the first trial (not working); left the second prototype, which worked well, but the cover was difficult and expensive to manufacture; and right the third prototype, which allowed transparable and inexpensive cover.


kitchenalert.mpg mpg Here Rollo is in action as a home service robot!

Rmovie.mpg mpg Rollo moves with people and observers its surroundings and points out with its laser finger.

Rollo_roll.mpg mpg An early Rollo takes its first rolls.

TanssiRollo-UMBRA-projekti.vob Rollo was also a dancer. (This is a huge file, 481MB)


  • Patent number 960103, inventors; Torsten Schönberg, Aarne Halme


(S) File not found or open failed result: raw file: /sovellus/trip_htdocs/tkk/julkaisee/raw.*