As exciting new uses for robots appear all over the world one which catches the eye more than most involves a spherical device designed to help farmers. It is called the Rosphere and one of the interesting things about it is that it gets moving just like a hamster in an exercise ball.
The sphere uses the same shifting movement which hamster use in order to propel itself forwards. The invention is the work of a team of 4 scientists at the Technical University of Madrid, who have been working on different ways to design a robot which can move over rugged, uneven ground better than wheeled or legged machines.
The electronics system which controls the Rosphere swings inside the device and it is through a shifting of the position of this part of the machine that it can move forward from a standing start.
Cameras and Sensors Can be Fitted
It also includes a wireless communication system in it and there is the option of fitting cameras and other sensors to monitor the environment around it. An operator can take over the controls and control it remotely if it gets stuck in one way or another.
The research work which has been done with the robot includes getting it to roll along in the furrows which are created between rows of crops. The long term goal is that farmers can send out their Rosphere to check up on conditions and advise whether it is time to water the crops or to carry out some other task in the field. This is a part of a larger project which is funded by the European Commission and which aims to produce a variety of different robots to do farm work.