The ball-balancing robot began as a novelty project for Tohoku Gakuin University student Takaya Achiai. But as time went on Takaya and his teacher discovered a more practical use.
The robot sits atop a rubber-coated bowling ball. It uses three omni-directional wheels to guide the ball in any direction controlled by a human operator. The wheels allow the robot to pivot, staying straight at all times.
The robot balances with the aid of two sets of accelerometers and gyroscopes.
The weight of a concrete block has no effect on the robot's ability to remain upright. It can be adapted to perform as a multi-directional wheelbarrow or platform that can turn in any direction by rotating on itself.
Apart from its potential as a labor-saving device in warehouses or factories, it might also provide a valuable service as a waiter at cocktail parties.