Sunday, March 25, 2007

Rotundus Spherical Robot

The typical security robots that you see publicised these days are usually from japan or korea and basically is like a R2D2 that travels on 4 wheels. Rotundus is a swedish company that thought out of the box and introduces a security robot that is an entire sphere.

What's innovative about this robot is its propulsion system. It is powered by a pendulum inside the sphere. When the pendulum is displaced from the center of the sphere, the ball will move along the direction of the pendulum. As such, it can move in virtually any direction.

A sphere shape means it's fast too. Little point of the contact with the ground means little friction. It can also tackle any terrain from snow to grass to concrete. No need to get stuck at corners either

This robot was developed by Ångström Space Technology Center, part of Uppsala University, Sweden, and meant to be used in space. But people also realised that it can be used as a security robot back on earth. Plenty of space inside the sphere to put cameras, microphones and various sensors to fulfill its purpose as a security robot. All you need to do is set its patrol route, and it'll follow by using GPS.

It's still in prototype form though, and the finished version would have improved GPS, radar, alarms, and a better powered pendulum to enable it to go upslope. That's alot of improvements that need to be made, but the basic concept shows a lot of promise.

Now imagine this as a gps-enabled bowling ball and the things you could do with it. Perfect score!

  1. New Scientist
  2. Rotundus AB

Chen ZhaoLin U036701H


dars.explore said...

Filip Wistrand

I find this round robot very interesting. Not so much for its ability to act as a security guard as it's way of moving. perhaps a breed between this design and the idea of "Hopping microbots" could render in a robot suitable for exploration of unknown environments preferable in a swarm of several robots interacting with each other. It seams to me as it is durable and quite unlikely to get stuck unless it falls into a crack or pit.

I also wonder if it is possible to design the surface of the ball so that it could propel itself in water. Both on the surface and on the bottom and hovering in between.

Industry said...

Seah Qiong Feng Sean

This robot is indeed an interesting concept as compared to the various locomotive methods we have learned in class, such as the legged vs wheel motion. This is indeed a way of thinking out of the box and with promising results.

Yet, I wonder how does the robot keep the camera in a upright position for monitoring, if it is an entire sphere that keeps rolling about, some mechanism would be required to orientate the camera to ensure continuous visibility.

dars.explore said...

Foo Jit Soon U059592R

Pretty great robot, but I am wondering about the maintenance and construction costs for such robots, and whether it can function better then a security guard- A security guard can capture suspects on the spot but not a robot. Also, in the dark, I believe it would be hard to capture images and differentiate between the background and solid objects.

Edutainment said...

Lim Ruo Qi

The spherical robot is really an amazing idea. I've found an article that mentioned some of the problems that a spherical robot may bring. For example, the rotation of the robot will cause oscillation and vibrations in the video captured. In this article, the scientists have implemented a shared system between the robot and the humans who use it. Additional intelligence is included for the robot to process the real time data into data easily readable by humans.

Industry said...

Very Very interesting robot. Its propulsion system using a pendulum is quite out of the box unlike other robots of similar functionalities. As the other bloggers have indicated, it would be quite difficult to take pictures or videos if the robot is in motion due its rolling motion. Its probably the reason why the robot which was intended for space exploration is used for security purposes.

Vignesh Viswanathan (U045971E) said...

Just to reply to the comments.

I failed to clarify in the entry, and I hope to get hold of some photos, but basically it's a case of an outer sphere and inner sphere.

The outer sphere will rotate, while the inner sphere will not. and basically remains in the same orientation. The pendulum is attached to this innersphere as well. (you can't expect the propulsion to work if the pendulum is spinning) So if you attach the cameras and sensors to this inner sphere, it is kept in an upright position.

But as ruo qi mentioned, I don't know about the problems with vibration. Maybe an inner suspension system as well? haha. And I guess with a pendulum (as opposed to a traditional motor), the vibration is less.

And Yup, sphere can't drop into a crack or pits, but it cannot overcome stpes as well.

Chen ZhaoLin

dars.edutainment said...

This ball is quite interesting. But I have some doubts. Firstly, when it rotate, how the pendulum maintain its position to make sure that the ball runs continuous. Secondly, I found that the ball has its limitation, maybe. If there is a slope, it may not have the ability to climb up. Anyone understand the internal architech of the ball. I am quite interested in it.

Liu Ming

dars.explore said...

Yeo Kelly

Really interesting and funny robot. However, looking at the size of it, it seems difficult to keep or hide. And when using on snow, I really wonder if the snow will block up the lens of the camera. If it will, then having the camera functions will be quite redundant.

In my opinion it can function better as a moving camera than as for sercurity purposes because it will not be able to identify who are suspicious.

Medical said...

OMG. It looks so cute. Read somewhere that robots are already being deployed as security guards in banks. With further enhancement to these robots, security guards may soon become redundant. Robots really are getting better and better.

Have a couple of questions regarding these robots. How do they identify who are crooks or their own people? Next are these Rotundus robots able to stop the bad guys? Like rolling over them? :) Thanks.

Ng Chin Ling (U047690E)

dars.explore said...

Have you seen the show ,"Mr. Incredible."? There exist a robot whose structure is similar to rotundus, but only difference is the robot in the show can jagged up "his" leg to walk as well.

Having the legs hidden inside the sphere and used it during necessity is important. It can helps to prevent the ball from running down the slope. WIth that, the rotundus can climb the stairs.

I wonder how cool this gadget if it can have the options to roll in all directions or using its "legs" if rolling is infeasible.

Koh Ling Ying
U046245W said...

Hi all, I've posted a video of how it works you can download and have a look.

@Liu Ming: at the moment it doesn't have sufficient power to climb slopes. This is being developed.

@Kelly: As you can see from the photos, the snow doesn't really cover the ball.

If you look around at lots of security robots, they are all very prominent. Security guards don't sneak around trying to catch thieves. Same thing with the robots. They serve as a deterrence to robbers.

@Chin Ling: At the moment you can just think of this as a roving surveillence camera. It can't do much else at the moment.

Chen ZhaoLin
u036701h said...