Self-propelled Bouncing Spherical Robot

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The Ohio State University

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Most robots that can travel on the ground are either traditional wheeled robots or legged robots. Exploring non-traditional novel robots may provide new solutions for locomotion not previously examined. Currently, self-rolling spherical robots have been designed and manufactured for hobbies, entertainment, or military uses. Similarly, various researchers have built legged robots that walk and run. Our objective in this research project was to design, build, and control a self-propelled bouncing and rolling spherical robot. While some self-bouncing wheeled robots have been built as toys, the self-bouncing spherical robot (one that looks like a ball) remains largely not explored. No one has produced a robot that can bounce continuously and can be steered without any external device to assist its movement. To achieve this goal, we plan to prototype up to three different mechanisms for bouncing. Each prototype would go through brainstorming, computer-aided design and simulation (of the bouncing), initial build, redesign, second build, and final analysis. We follow the classic design cycle: observe, ideation, prototype, and testing. We will also perform dynamic analyses of the robot to improve the design. This thesis reports on current progress towards these goals: we have designed and fabricated (and iterated) on a simple prototype bouncing ball, based on a spinning internal mass; we have performed some 2D and 3D simulations of the spinning mechanism that shows promise for the mechanism to produce persistent bouncing. Future work will consist of improving the current prototype, matching the computer simulations quantitatively to the prototype, performing design optimization and trajectory optimizations for optimal control, exploring other designs closer to hopping robots, and finally, building the ability to control and steer the robot.


25th Annual Denman Undergraduate Research Forum Finalist Second Place


Robot, Dynamics, Design, Control, Simulation