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Robot without wheels or legs assists farmers

Posting in Environment

Hamsters have inspired a new type of robotic locomotion

The humble hamster has inspired a robot that will help farmers raise crop yields on arable land without getting stuck on the uneven ground between planted rows.

Scientists from the Robotics and Cybernetics Research Group from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) have created ROSPHERE, a robot that replicates how hamsters propel plastic exercise balls forward without external force. ROSPHERE changes its center of mass, generating motion, just like a hamster longing forward.

There are no "feet" and no wheels. The ROSPHERE is literally a sphere.

"A significant part of time spent on this research was related to the "mechatronic" development of the robot, this includes all the aspects that involve its mechanics and control electronics, communications and programming by generating two versions which were proved on evolutions of the pendulum and its drive system," Phys.org said in a report last Friday.

The UPM researchers have literally "field tested" ROSPHERE on farms to monitor soil conditions by rolling along within rows of crops. The data would help farmers utilize more precision-farming techniques. ROSPHERE was also tested around people for work in shared environments with farm workers.

What's next for ROSPHERE? UPM will focus on improving its autonomous navigation and mechanical strength to make it a more versatile assistant.

— By on June 24, 2013, 8:53 PM PST

David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure