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This Transforming Crab Sphere Is the Self-Returning Ball of the Future

It's just a few blasters short of battling Jedis, but if you've ever chased a runaway ball down the street you'll appreciate Kåre Halvorsen's MorpHex sphere which can transform into a six-legged crab and simply walk back to you.


The bot is still under development, but in its current form it's brought to life with 25 servos that let it walk, dance, and do everything but roll around when it's closed up into a sphere. That feature is hopefully coming soon, but even if this ever became a DIY kit, the custom electronics and components used means it wouldn't be cheap. So it will probably be marketed towards Galactic Empires looking to secure trade routes and quash rebellions, instead of kids too lazy to run down the street. [Zenta via Robot Dreams via The Verge]

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The improvements it needs:

1) Autonomy. I don't want to have to RC this thing if I've tossed it somewhere I can't see. I'd rather press an RC button and have it find its way back to me, maybe with GPS or something. Of course, it would then need some sort of terrain mapping as well, like SLAM, but that's why this is the hardest feature of robots! IT can be done, though, so I say they should work on it.

2) The closing should be tighter. It seems there's a seam/gap around the circumference, which would hinder its rollability.

3) The on/off mechanism needs to be better. Sticking a rod into it (immature pun detected) is kind of annoying given the length of the rod (no giggling, students). Maybe there should be a small door, like the ones that case dry-cell batteries in consumer products, that protects a simple pushbutton?

The second and third are the easiest. But the first is the most important (to me). Get to it!