Robot shaped like a hamster ball cruises the farmland

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Look at that robot tripping over a rock! Is it rude to laugh? Fortunately, robots don’t have feelings, because it’s quite easy for them to fall right on their little metallic noses if the ground is uneven.

On that note, I’ve got good news my, movement-challenged robot friends! The Robotics and Cybernetics Research Group from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Polytechnic University of Madrid) wants to save your little microchip souls some embarrassment, so they’ve created a role model for you to look up to.

Mind you, this new guy’s just a humble farmer, but he’s got some moves and curves that’ll get your attention. Meet the ROSPHERE! Oh no, he has no arms or legs! Don’t worry. You see, it’s exactly because he has no arms or legs, and moves around with a ball-shaped body, that he can balance on rocky ground.

SONY DSCHe’s a rock and roll star! Literally, he rolls right over those rocks. Now, does someone need to throw him like a bowling ball for this to work? Nah, ROSPHERE can actually roll around all on his own, because he’s got some high-tech pendulum guts that keep him steady. Pendul-what? Ever seen a grandfather clock with that slowly swinging golden gong inside? Yah, well Rosphere has two of them, and they rock back and forth, kind of like a hamster would if it was cruisin’ down the street in a hamster ball.

Okay, so what about that whole robot farmer thing? Well, this ROSPHERE guy doesn’t just hit the skating rink for good times, he’s actually got a useful purpose! Scientists tested him out rolling through farmland, because it can get pretty bumpy out there. I mean, jumping over mud, plant stems, and rocks is some serious off-roading adventure. Don’t worry about ROSPHERE stubbing any farmer’s toes, though, because it pays attention to its surroundings. In fact, it pays so much attention, that it’s being used to gather information on crops while it’s out there taking the scenic route in the cornfield.

Its future as a farmer is just the beginning, because ROSPHERE might one day set out for the big city and see what sort of trouble he can get into. Will he mingle with bowling balls at the alley? Will he speed down air vents to check for toxic fumes? Street race the hamsters? Who knows, but this roly-poly is certainly worth keeping an eye on.