A robot that balances on a ball

Erico Guizzo says: "Japanese roboticist Masaaki Kumagai has built wheeled robots, crawling robots, and legged robots. Now he's built a robot that balances and rides on a bowling ball. You say why? Kumagai says why not?"

A Robot That Balances on a Ball


  1. Honestly, I think that the video does a pretty good job of showing the answer to why. Those look like they’d be very useful in any situations where you need to move a lot of stuff around a large flat area (I’m assuming that they don’t really handle more rugged terrain currently). If I were setting up a fulfillment warehouse of some sort, I’d love to have some of those to help the workers out.

  2. The Dyson Ball vacuum people will need tissues when they watch this, either to clean up their tears or other messes related to over-excitement.

  3. I’m not asking “why”, I’m asking “when I’m 100 years old can I pretty please have a power-chair that rides on a ball?”

    It’s the intermediate step between the Hoveround scooter and the actually-hovering lounge chairs in WALL-E!

  4. I don’t recommend that anyone watch that awful 2005 movie “Robots,” but the design for the character voiced by Mel Brooks was based on this concept. It’s also been used for several of the robots in the “Ratchet & Clank” series.

  5. Well, botboy does a better job of balancing on a ball than my daughter!

    But, then, she can make felt animals and play the piano.

    1. Cheaplazymom, your daughter is great and I’ma let you finish, but there was a boingboing post about a girl reciting Pi while balancing books on her head and spinning a Rubik’s Cube:

      Does your daughter make felt animals *while* playing the piano? She only needs one more gimmick and then she’ll be boingable.

      1. well, to be truly boingworthy she would need to be playing a song about traveling through a worm hole on an electric ukulele powered by her diy solar panel hat while balancing on a ball. I don’t see it happening anytime soon!

  6. Hey, it’s just like the biblical prophecy!
    (seriously folks. I just can’t remember which book. But some people say the line refers to aliens)

  7. It’s a classic controls problem (the inverted pendulum) taken to its logical extreme. Cool stuff.

  8. It’s great to think someone built ONE of these, then suddenly there are THREE!

  9. I’ve always thought it would be interesting to build a wheelchair where the person “stands” (by being on seat that’s like a bicycle seat, or a motorcycle saddle, or a parachute harness, or at least a knee chair) over something like this. This would reduce their footprint, similarly to Dean Kamen’s iBOT wheelchair and of course to the Segway, but even more so: it would fit entirely under the person, without anything sticking out (except possibly the person’s legs, depending on how solidly/comfortably they can be if their butt is not on top of a horizontal surface). A well-designed and expertly-controlled one would even allow for waltzing, etc.

    I don’t know why no one is working on that. If I lost the use of my legs (or someone very close to me became a paraplegic), and I had enough money, I’d hire robotics people to do it. And there must be people in that position somewhere in the world.

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