(PhysOrg.com) -- The team at the Coordinated Robotics Lab at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), which created the little iFling robot, says the iFling is now in the process of its third design iteration, and with added potential. This is a radio-controlled robot often described as a “self-righting little Segway-like vehicle.” Its activity is picking up and throwing ping pong balls. The robot was built using a 3-D printer, according to the video narration.
It is tempting to use personifications (``dynamic'', ``nimble'', ``madcap'', ...) to describe robotic systems; we have in fact given in to such temptations on these pages. These temptations are especially strong for a vehicle endowed with feedback, which often bestows the vehicle with a certain life-like responsiveness, and makes the vehicle particularly engaging as a toy. Thus, we have explored (through three major design iterations) the miniaturization and simplification of our original iHop concept to form a (non-hopping) self-righting Segway dubbed iFling that can pick up and throw ping-pong balls (or swack them around, using the leg as a hockey stick). Due to the very careful attention paid during its design, picking up a ball is in fact quite easy with this vehicle: simply roll over a ball and wedge it between the body and one of the rotating wheels. Throwing a ball is also quite effective, and is achieved in a precise and energetic lacrosse/jai-alai/TracBall fashion.