Blind juggling robot keeps balls in the air for hours

By David Ferguson
Saturday, December 22, 2012 10:51 EDT
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Raffaello D'Andrea and juggling robot
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Researchers at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control (IDSC) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich have created a juggling robot, the so-called “blind juggler,” which, in spite of its lack of visual sensors, is capable of flawlessly juggling a ball or balls for hours.

According to New Scientist, the robot was designed by Philipp Reist and Raffaello D’Andrea and uses only mechanical sensors in its paddle, which is slightly curved.  The robot registers nine different aspects of each bounce of the ball, including speed, angle and spin.  It then predicts how best to hit it next to keep it aloft and bouncing at a steady rhythm.

The researchers experimented with tennis balls, ball bearings and other objects.  Nylon balls worked best, bouncing as high as six feet.  Not surprisingly, coke bottles and shoes, which humans can juggle with ease, were a bit beyond the robot’s abilities.

Watch the video, embedded via New Scientist, below:

Watch Raffaello D’Andrea’s video “Dynamic Works,” embedded via Vimeo, below:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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