Blind juggling robot

BB's secret software hacker Dean Putney spotted this neat "blind" juggling robot. Dean writes:
This machine bounces a ball without any sensory input. The surface it is bouncing the ball with is slightly curved, so that if the ball doesn't hit in the center it will be bounced at an angle and correct for the horizontal motion. The machine actually has no idea where the ball is though, since its feedback control system is purely mechanical. It's surprisingly robust, allowing the machine to be moved under the ball, swung on a pendulum and it works with several different balls, as shown in these videos.
Blind Juggling Robot


  1. Hardly what I would qualify as juggling. It’s a precision ball bouncing machine. When it can really juggle I will be impressed.

  2. Obviously the permutations of the ball’s placement on the sphere are too chaotic to be predicted accurately, but something about this just makes me feel like we should try to predict the path of the ball in the horizontal plane.

  3. I second #1. The crazy thing is, I think Richard Feynman actually built some juggling robots (same principle, but at a 45 degree angle). Unless I’m misremembering, that would make a much cooler video. Especially since it’s not something made just recently and treated as “cutting edge”!

  4. So what’s the “robot” part? And what’s interesting about it? Pistons have been around for a long time.

  5. If you visit their website, they have a video of a version with the bounce plate on a sort of pendulum action.. which makes it look much more like “juggling”.

    Now they just need to get two plates working together, to bounce two balls and get some real juggling going.

  6. Oops, I meant Claude Shannon. Another sadly-departed scientist. But this time I bring proof:

    So what’s the big deal with this gizmo that can barely dribble one ball, in the year 2009?

  7. This should be an exhibit at every science museum in the country. Just think of all of the cool experiments that kids could do with it. Using multiple balls. Changing the rate of hits, different balls etc.

  8. The sound reminds me of the helium cryo refrigerators (Balzers and CTI Cryogenics) we use for radio telescope receivers.

    Listen to that all day for a week, it’s just like being at Burning Man!

  9. Now that! is one excellent device for shrinks that employ hypnosis in their therapy.The cadence of the piston’s ka-thunk ka-thunk coupled with the boing-boing of the balls is soothing- zooming in zooming out -in and out -back and fro -ka-thunk ka- thunk. I feel sleeepy -boing-boooing aahhh- in and out ….ka-boooiiingg…[THUD]

  10. it could probably work doing a fraction of the movement, it would require some fine tuning but ould be cool if they can time it right and have the plate look stationary.

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