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Here are some photo’s of Segway’s new RMP, debuting at RoboBusiness – there isn’t any information available about it at this time other than it “might” cost up to $50k and it can move in any direction (omnidirectional wheels, but the term was hyperdirectional?).

It uses the same parts that a Segway uses but just doubled, it can haul up to 400 lbs. The engineer was going to load the firmware on for demos later, but I took some video of video they had on a screen, it’s creepy cool for sure.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. Hello Moto says:

    Those are actually Mecanum Wheels. A omnidirectional wheel generally refers to where the smaller wheels only turn perpindicular to the main shaft, rather then the more complex set-up seen here.

  2. Gareth Branwyn says:

    PT said: “Very creepy. You know it’s a good robot when it’s creepy. All the good ones are creepy.”

    LOL. Too true.

  3. RussNelson says:

    Also see the Airtrax forklift and aerial platform videos. They use the same type of wheels, and have a patent on them. I expect that Segway licensed it.

  4. Mark says:

    What is so special about this? The segway is interesting because of its balancing abilities. I can build this in my garage.

  5. Phillip Torrone says:

    mark please build this and send me a link / photos.

  6. Pavel Ushakov says:

    Wow this thing looks amazing.

  7. Mark says:

    http://www.pyrobots.org/photo.php?photo=./includes/photos/Brunswick_Eruption/MVC-130S.JPG&dl=true

    We decided not to go with mecanums that year. If we had, we would have been able to achieve the same range of motion seen here. Instead we wanted something that could not be pushed around (mecanums allow you to be pushed in any direction). (This robot was built in 6 weeks for the FIRST Robotics Competition)

    I invite you to come sit on the robot and we’ll even let you drive it while sitting on it.

    If you would like, we can put on the same mecanums used by team 1246 this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q3def7hrDA

    Realistically, what Segway did is connect four motors attached to mecanum wheels. One can even add weight-shift control a la Segway by using a movable platform and adding accelerometers under it.

  8. Jon says:

    I believe this is a prototype of the skateboard YT rides in the novel. Awesome.

  9. stephen says:

    i agree that this is not all that impressive. i recently participated in FIRST. http://www.usfirst.org/

    i saw robots with seemingly the same capability’s built by tanagers with a limited assortment of parts.

  10. jakeofalltrades.wordpress.com says:

    But what *is* it? Method of personal conveyance? How does one control it? Why does it cost so much? It looks to be little more than four gearbox motors, fancy wheels, battery, and a simple control computer. Granted they’re bad-ass motors, wheels, etc, but $50k? I feel I must be missing something…

  11. gear head says:

    I’m impressed… and it’s really effing hard to impress me. Thanks for posting this

  12. bgraham says:

    I had 3 high school students put one of those together in a high school room in about 3 days. When it comes to FIRST robotics, that is a really simple drive system.

    http://www.lightningrobotics.com

    for some video of our on it’s first run – with no practice, and very basic software written by high school students (you get the idea, very little work) you get this:

    Still cool – but I’d say crab drive is more impressive.

    I can find at least 50 other teams that did this drive this year… buy the wheels at http://www.andymark.biz

  13. Mark says:

    Haha I love the FIRST response!

    Awesomeness!

    Reagards,
    Team 1396 Alum & Mentor

  14. bgraham says:

    They are called Mecanum wheels. They are still create an omnidirectional drive base, but they are not the onmi-wheels of fame.

    They provide a force vector at an angle. To drive in any given direction, you have to add up the force vectors to point in the direction you want to go. You can also add a spinning component to the equation, so you can rotate and translate at the same time. It’s just working out the vector math.

  15. Alex says:

    We did it, for the FIRST robotics competition, which was coincidentally started by the founder of the company that made the segway. Our setup isn’t nearly as capable, (this is one of our first runs, it’s been improved) but it’s still cool.

  16. Anonymous says:

    AirTrax in PA has been making forklifts and other things using this exact wheel type for years.

  17. Alan says:

    Hans Moravec of CMU was doing this when I was practically a tot.

    And Mecanum wheels where around before him, he just put them on a robot.

  18. eydryan says:

    it seems like its top speed is 5kmph… and who in the world would pay $50K for this little thing? seems excessive and pointless, and yet another indication of just how lazy americans are :))

  19. Zoop says:

    The Mecanum wheel is one design for a wheel which can move in any direction. It is sometimes called the Ilon wheel after its Swedish inventor, Bengt Ilon, who came up with the idea in 1973 when he was an engineer with the Swedish company Mecanum AB.

    The US Navy bought the patent from Ilon and put researchers to work on it in the 1980s in Panama City. The Navy has used it for transporting items around ships. In 1997 Airtrax Inc. and several other companies each paid the Navy $2,500 for rights to the technology, including old drawings of how the motors and controllers worked, to build an omni-directional forklift truck that could maneuver in tight spaces such as the deck of an aircraft carrier. These vehicles are now in production and video footage can be seen on the Airtrax website

  20. RDAC says:

    I’d love to see a writeup on how the first teams built something like this. I could see a lot of applications for it.

    Anybody thinking mobile tripod platform for shooting like I was?

  21. cyenobite2 says:

    Anyone else impressed with the awesomeness of seeing this robot discussed in the above comments and realizing that high school kids are using some of the same technology as these big guys (navy, segway) to build their own robots!? Ok, maybe it’s just me, but I’m Impressed. Further proof of the DIY Maker movement gaining ground.

  22. Papercut says:

    RDAC you have to be an american, always thinking about shooting something.

  23. Ornithologist says:

    stephen on April 8, 2008 at 6:18 PM said, “i saw robots with seemingly the same capability’s built by tanagers with a limited assortment of parts.”

    Wow, birds building robots! I’d like to see that!

  24. Daily Tech Impressions says:

    kind of reminds me of the wheels on this sidewinder lift truck
    http://www.dailytechnologyimpressions.com/sidewinder-omni-directional-lift-truck/

  25. Jtosh says:

    As another member of the FIRST robotics community I can also speak to the use of this type of drive system.

    Its alot of fun to drive and they have alot of versatility. As far as competitive robots, there are alot of advantages as far as manueverability, however you definately sacrifice the ability to push another robot or an object because of the nature of the rollers.

    The biggest challenge for this type of wheels is controls. Using signal mixing algorithm you can control the x and y acceleration, as well as the twist variable.

    For more great info about mecanums, check out http://www.andymark.biz where you can purchase some yourself to experiment with or you can check out the FIRST robotics community forums at http://chiefdelphi.com and get lots of good info and pictures of student built mecanum robots.

    Definately recommend checking them out for anyone into robots, simply because its a blast to drive a robot with this type of drive compared to a traditional ‘tank steering’ robot.

  26. eez says:

    Here is a paper that explains how to use Mecanum Wheels. Just came out googling for them.
    http://www.scipub.org/fulltext/ajas/ajas351831-1835.pdf
    They’re less common than traditional wheels and more pricey, but the $50K figure for that Segway moving platform is just ridiculous: even $1000 would be too much for 4 DC geared motors plus a set of wheels, a battery and the very simple electronics required to make it work.

  27. Dan K says:

    our FIRST team (team 20) uses them. The best part is the “controlled drift” programmed into the robot. The Andymark wheels got all bent up, so we milled our own. Personally, I credit them with our success. We’ll be at Atlanta in a few days; if you’re there, stop by our pits.

  28. erco says:

    Those omniwheels do look cool (and creepy) in a lab or on a perfectly flat, level floor (concrete, etc) but they don’t do so well in the real world. They must be hard mounted (no suspension) and the rollers are tiny compared to the effective wheel diameter. The rollers are solid (not pneumatic) and the rubber compound must be very high durometer to maintain its specific shape, so the lack of suspension and cushioning makes for a rough ride. Lots of friction/wear and wear on a sidewalk or asphalt parking lot. Hit a few bumps or ramp/driveway transitions and your slick orientation goes away. Too many moving parts, bearings and seals to wear out. Who wants to wash those wheels after they go outside and get muddy? Traditional pneumatic wheels in a conventional drive arrangement are hard to beat for a reliable, industrial duty solution. And, a forklift doesn’t need a processor to drive straight. Omniwheels are an entertaining solution in search of the right problem.

  29. MADCOW says:

    I think RDAC’s comment had more to do with videography/cinematography than weaponry. As an American camera operator, I could see uses for this with Steadicam or a tripod on a level studio or location floor. I wonder how much vibration those wheels impart to the platform.

    I am not an engineer but I truly enjoy sites like this and the comments after.

  30. Anon says:

    What was creepier than the robot was the arrow cursor hovering over it throughout most of the video.

  31. nobody says:

    While impressive, the drive technology used here – Mecanum wheels were invented in 1973. This is no new technology.

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