It was years ago when Ralph Hollis discovered the ballbot, a sophisticatedly designed simple robot, whose thin, the tall body moves atop a sphere just smaller than the speed of bowling ball. The present version known as SIMbot has a similar elegant motor with just one moving component – the ball. Other than this, the other active element of the robot is its body itself.
SIM or spherical induction motor introduced by Hollis, a research scientist at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute and Masaaki Kumagai, a lecturer of engineering at Tohoku Gakuin University in Tagjo, Japan, eradicates the mechanical boost systems that each utilized on conventional ball-bots. Because of absolute mechanical simplicity, SIMbot needs less regular maintenance and is less likely to witness mechanical troubles.
This SIM or spherical induction motor has been invented by Hollis, a research lecturer at the Carnegie Mellon University of Robotics Institute along with Masaaki Kumagai, a lecturer of engineering at the University of Tohoku Gakuin in Tagajo, Japan. Their invention eradicates all sorts of mechanical drive systems that each utilized on previous ballbots. Because of such extreme mechanical simplicity, SIMbot needs less regular maintenance and is less subject to witness mechanical troubles.
The novel motor can shift the ball in any area utilizing just electronic controls. Such movements may keep the body of SIMbot balanced atop the ball.
Though as per Hollis, it would be too early to compare the expenses of the experimental motor with traditional motors, he confirms that long-range trends prefer the technologies at its heart. “Such motor rests on a lot of software and electronics. The software and electronics are getting cheaper. Mechanical instruments are not that much economical and even are not cutting on costs.”
The mechanical ease of SIMbot is an excellent advancement for ballbots, a sort of robot that is maintained by Hollis and it makes it suitable for functioning with a human in a similar environment. Since the body of the robot can dynamically balance atop the motor’s ball, a ballbot can be as big as a person. Such sort of robot can perform tasks like assisting a person out of the chair, physically guiding an individual or supporting carrying the parcels.
The spherical induction motor is an accurately structured hollow iron ball with a shell based on copper. Currently is present in the ball with a layer of laminated steel stators, each with 3-phase wire winding.
Kumagai and Hollis collaboratively designed the motor. Ankit Bhatia, a student of Ph.D. robotics along with Olaf Sassnich, a researcher from Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, reformed it for functionality in ballbots.
Getting freedom from the mechanical drive eradicates a huge amount of friction of conventional ballbot models, but presently all friction could be eradicated by ultimately incorporating an air bearing. Hollis says, “The body of the robot would be then detached from the motor ball with an air-filled cushion, rather than conventional rollers.
“Even without enhancing the performance of the motor, SIMbot has illustrated impressive performance,” says Hollis. “We expect the technology of SIMbot to make ballbots much more accessible and much more practical for extensive adoption.”
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