Maker Faire 2008: SWARM


SWARM is a large scale kinetic art project. The electrically powered spheres move by shifting the batteries around the center axle. By tilting the central ring, th orb can steer as well. The SWARM members are currently radio controlled, but the plan is for them to eventually receive commands from a mother node. More information about the orbs’ design is available on the project wiki. A video of the wobbly buggers in motion is embedded after the break.

15 thoughts on “Maker Faire 2008: SWARM

  1. When I saw these things rolling around on the grass at the Makers Faire, the only thing I could think about was how to make them into lawn mowers. You know, kind of like the old push powered reel mowers. I guess you could sit on your porch and use the remote to control it. What can I say, I’m a little strange.

  2. I have pondered that myself. Either its a Joke, everything covered is pretty much beta. Or it will somehow be improved and will be hosted inside large rolling spheres in the future!

  3. heh, I actually made something very similar to these back in year 10 high school.
    it was inside a hamster ball and it worked in exactly the same way, with batteries rotating around an axis, and a servo to make the batteries sway to steer it.

    i think NASA was looking at using inflatable ball robots to explore mars, or maybe it was an independent company i can’t remember

  4. For some reason these remind me of a reel style mower, only spherical instead of cylindrical, scary as hell if the edges were sharpened.

  5. I’m not dealing with “swarm” networked multi-bot technology, but I built a similar sphere-bot some months ago, that has the same method of locomotion. It turns not just the batteries but the whole system (motors, batteries, custom control boards) around a central axis, and leans one way or the other while moving to turn (it just leans if it isn’t moving).

    I thought I had a fairly original idea when I thought of it on my own, now I see everyone’s doing this. :/

  6. These orbs are best appreciated at night, as seen by thousands at Burning Man last year. RGB LEDs inside the orb project colored light patterns through the meshlike frame onto the ground as they roll along.

  7. @11
    >I thought I had a fairly original idea
    >when I thought of it on my own, now I
    >see everyone’s doing this. :/

    lol thats exactly what i thought when i invented it, and then found out that it had already been done.

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