Finding yet another more useful application for the Segway's balancing technology, the iFling robot is able to pick up ping pong balls and fling them at targets, all while effortlessly balancing on two wheels.
In its current form the iFling's throwing arm could use a little work. It uses either a catapult or Jai Alai approach to launching ping pong balls, which barely seem to make it halfway across a room. But its technique for picking up balls off the ground is very clever. It traps the ball in a groove located just inside each wheel, and then drives forward or back to lift it up into its body where it can be automatically loaded into its outstretched throwing arm.
The researchers at the University of California, San Diego, hope to eventually refine the iFling's capabilities so that a couple of them could run around playing catch with each other. Yawn. But there's real potential here as a way to replace ball boys at tennis matches, outfield players in MLB, and a safe way to quickly pick up a live grenade and toss it back at an enemy in the heat of battle. [iFling via Automaton]