Rather than rely on a robot with wheels that could get stuck or legs that could cause the device to fall over, the scientists from the Technical University of Madrid (UPM), created a device known as “Rosphere” that can simply roll around.
The researchers said Rosphere moved in a similar way to a hamster ball using a weight inside the sphere to alter its centre of gravity and cause it to roll forward.
The Rosphere mechatronic drive
By building a “mechatronic” drive that combined a mechanical pendulum with electronic controls, the team were able to create a system that could move the sphere forward or cause it to turn.
They first trialled the robot by using it to navigate a bumpy agricultural field and gathering environmental variables, showing how it could be used to precisely assess farming techniques.
Rosphere was also tested in one of Madrid’s largest parks, Buen Retiro Park, to make sure that it wouldn’t pose a hazard to nearby humans.