mObi Telepresence Robot With Ballbot Omnidirectional Motion System

Like on the production line of a factory, domestic robots waiting the day when they will be released on the market and in this case is mObi. mObi is a telepresence robot with an interesting design including the ballbots system for moving and the legs located around the base and keeps the robot in balance when the power is off. The base platform of the mobile robot is configurable and was built for general purposes.

The word robot becomes popular especially in later years due to industrial penetration, space missions, social robots and the list can continue. Since the robots become more socials, the trend is to use robots in workplaces instead humans. This trend born new advanced robots that fit in almost any field and become familiars with humans.

Like mObi there are many other robots like iRobot AVA, Double Robotics, Jazz Connect, VGo, and the list goes on. All of these robots are designed for general purposes as telepresence technologies, and depending on design these can be used for different purposes including educational, research or for the consumer market. mObi is a little bit different from the competitors listed above where all of these are designed for consumer markets. The main idea behind mObi is to be used in human-robot interaction research for home and business environments and less for the consumer market.

The telepresence robot takes shape in the labs of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in 2005 while the project was transferred to Bossa Nova Robotics project aiming to design the personal robotics platform for domestic consumers of the 21st century.

Moving system is different that we can meet until now at a telepresence robot. mObi uses the locomotion platform from Carnegie Mellon called ballbot, a system that uses a sphere to move in any direction without turning. This system has advantages and disadvantages. Advantages of this moving system include a small footprint of the robot, moving without turning while disadvantages include the loss of balance when power is off or inability to descend or climb stairs.

Inside the body, mObi has a new generation of Intel hardware that run-on the ROS operating system or Windows. The tablet is located in the head and also represents the head of the robot.

His design was created in order to use the robots especially in research as well as in offices, hospitals, or for nursing at home.

The weaknesses of the mObi are the moving system as well as the internet connection. Let’s make a short overview of these weaknesses of the robot. First, the moving system uses a ball instead legs or wheels that are the most common moving systems instead robots. This system is good for travelling because it doesn’t require turning to change the direction, but the robot cannot be used on stairs, or on any other type of terrain than a flat one. The second weakness of mObi is the internet connection without the robot can be controlled.

Navigation and Control

Using 3D sensors and application the robot possesses an intuitive control in an efficient manner. Invented in the labs of Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, the ballbot moving system is capable of turning the robot in any direction, keep the balance even the robot has the powerful energy interrupted by using six legs. A PrimeSense sensor has the role to control automatically the robot in order to follow the user in conversation. Communications between users is made through the real-time communication apps called Skype.

mObi Head

The head of mObi is a simple iPad tablet with a customized application installed that allows users to communicate using the face-to-face service Skype. Using a tablet dock, the iPad is basically the head of the robot and it is used by the user to control the robot and also for communication.

mObi Base

On short therms the robot can be described as a robot balanced on a ball that can move in any direction and has a sleek and well defined exterior. Emotions can be expressed using the emotive light array located in the middle of the body. mObi has a tall of 1451 mm( 57.1-inch) and a depth of 347mm(13.6-inch). From up to down inside the body is located a next generation of Intel processor that run ROS or Windows OS. Under the central unit is located the ball and the legs that are operated when the robot stay in one place and the power is off.


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