Generally, I approach robots (and everything else) with gratuitous "i"s appended to their names with no small amount of skepticism, but UCSD's robotics lab has somehow managed to create a whole lineage of "i" robots that can do some totally unique stuff. We've written about them before , but this latest version of iFling has some substantial quality of life improvements when it comes to doing what it does best: picking up ping-pong balls and chucking them at things:
The two-wheeled balancing design clearly gives the robot more mobility than it knows what to do with, and the integrated ball pickup system is brilliant. I love the idea of teaching a bunch of these little guys to autonomously play catch, but better yet would be some sort of entirely new robot-on-robot team sport. It's also worth noting that the website mentions how iFling is "particularly engaging as a toy," which makes me wonder whether we might be treated to a kit (or even a full-fledged commercial product) at some point in the future.
[ UCSD Robotics ]