RC bristlebot shifts weight for steering

This large bristlebot has no prolem steering itself by shifting its weight. It’s easy enough to watch the video after the break and see how this works. But there’s still the same air of “I can’t believe that actually works” which we experienced with the original bristlebot.

This is not the first attempt to calm a bristlebots movements, but we don’t remember seeing one you could drive around like an RC car. [Glajten] up-sized the bot with what appears to be a small shop broom cut in half, creating a catamaran design. The vibrating motor, which might have come out of a gaming controller, rides on the back of the bot, centered between the two bristle platforms. On the front a servo motor holds the shaft of a long bolt which has extra weight at the end of it. Steering happens when the weight is offset by a turn of the servo.

[Thanks Bret via SaskView]


  1. Fetret says:

    First sentence, “prolem”. Other than that cool bot, I love the homemade look (and the fact that it is home made)

  2. Earl Jr. says:

    Behold, the newest floor cleaning robot! I assume the next video will be a battle to the death between this and a roomba?

  3. Erik Johnson says:

    Throw some suds down or vinegar water and you’ve got a fun hard floor washer that your kids will be fighting to use!

  4. Luke says:

    Damn, that thing is really cute. Can a hack be cute?

  5. Steve says:

    Bad ass.

  6. 24601 says:

    OMG, I’m so gonna “borrow” that design, and make me an RC Scrubbing Bubble! ^_^

  7. supershwa says:

    Pretty cool homemade design, but I doubt it’s very practical. Part of the reason bristle brushes are used is to get that “deep down” scrub that requires some weight behind the brush to get in between cracks and into dirty surfaces.

    Kind of reminds me of those mechanical toothbrushes — a fun novelty, but not necessary at all. I guess if you have a hard time disciplining your kids (or roommates) into keeping the place clean, this would be an alternative to use as a bribe.

  8. Spork says:

    You missed the point. It’s a super-cheap RC car that doesn’t need wheels/motors on the wheels.

    That is awesome. Please post it, I would like to “borrow” your design. =D

  9. chris says:

    i think i can see enough of the design from the video to decide i have enough parts on hand to soon have a vibrating bot zooming across my kitchen floor

  10. 24601 says:

    @supershwa: it’s not for cleaning, it’s for fun

  11. Banjohat says:

    simply amazing.. I really like the idea and its actually quite fast!

  12. @supershwa says:

    That’s how toothbrushes work, but if you get yourself an electronic/vibrating toothbrush you’re not supposed to push as much as just let it vibrate the gunk away.

  13. The DON says:

    I think everyone so far has missed the point of the video.
    The unusual aspect of the video is that there is a letterbox in the door, yet the stairs seen to the right of the door, clearly go down. this means that the postman has to go upstairs to post any letters.

    Advanced postman training done right.

  14. Spork says:

    @The DON
    That is a light, not a letterbox. It’s plugged in to the wall.

  15. Erik Johnson says:

    @supershwa As with a toothbrush. But you get an electric/vibrating(“sonic”) toothbrush, you’re not supposed to do the pushing, but simply guide it along and let it vibrate the gunk off.

  16. anon says:

    anyone want to figure out how big one would have to be to move the space shuttle?

  17. strider_mt2k says:

    It’s awesome!

    Too bad there’s no write-up.

  18. strider_mt2k says:

    Oh I forgot to mention:

    It works hard, so you don’t have toooooooooo…!
    (Some classic vocal talent here too, kids…)

  19. 24601 says:

    @strider_mt2k: exactly ^_^ just fit an inverted bowl over the electronics, paint on some eyes and eyebrows, and you’ve got an RC Scrubbing Bubble.

    @anon: anything like this big enough to move the Shuttle would likely vibrate so much it’d destroy the Shuttle.

  20. Scott says:

    What about a circular broom that spins with a shifting center of gravity. Similar to those big floor waxers that you lift up or down on the handle to get it to move to where you want.

  21. WestfW says:

    That’s wonderful! I have an immediate desire to encourage the miniaturized infra-red controlled toothbrush based re-implementation!

  22. Amos says:

    @WestfW: No need for IR, just get a “zipzap”.

  23. zacdee316 says:

    I would like to see someone miniaturize this using real toothbrushes.

    Chances are it won’t happen, but it would be even more bad ass than this one.

  24. miked says:


  25. Underling says:

    You could probably miniaturize it using two electromagnets with a mettle swing arm in the middle so when you terned on a magnet it pulled the swing arm to one side. You might have to use a spring to pull the arm back to center.

  26. Addidis says:

    This is not the first attempt to calm a bristlebots movements, but we don’t remember seeing one you could drive around like an RC car.

    There is something oddly amusing about watching this thing.

  27. Chris says:

    Quite impressive how well this handles for such a simple mechanism!

    I recall a device that was (falsely) claimed to produce reactionless thrust. There’s a pseudoscience-free description of how it really worked on Wikipedia, the page on Reactionless drive, and the section on Oscillation thruster. The technique described there should give a nice speed boost if anyone is interested in hot rodding their brush-bot.

    And yes, this ‘bot remind me of a scrubbing bubble too!

  28. element_leader says:

    I think a higher center of gravity on the weight, like a football player figure.

  29. strider_mt2k says:




    -a woman named JOHN??

    -but in all seriousness

    I started thinking about scaling down the steering for toothbrushes and wondered if the steering mechanism from a Zip-Zap or similar micro RC car would work to throw a small weight left and right for a similar effect?

    It seems to me that a regular gear motor could be used in place of the steering servo in a pinch as well on the large one.

    Why do these projects made of scrap grab me?
    (probably because at heart they are simple enough concepts for me to work with in my brain)


  30. strider_mt2k says:

    Heck, those micro RC cars have small enough guts to use the whole kit-n-kaboodle for a tiny “Brush Runner”.

    Yes, I coined it. Right there.

    “Brush Runner”


  31. fhunter says:

    Just use two vibrators (both controlled, placed above each of the brush) and you do not need a servo. Cheaper, and easier to build, plus no heavy moving parts :).
    The design is from late 70’s.

  32. EdZ says:

    Ah, a fellow member of the Hong Kong Cavaliers.

    I wonder how the optimum vibration frequency is linked to bristle stiffness (and probably length). Maybe using very still (carbon fibre?) bristles and ultrasonic piezos you could make tiny bristlebots that move silently. To the human ear, anyway. Multiple bristle ‘pontoons’ with multiple piezos would allow for steering, and a triad of actuators in a ring should allow full holonomic control (assuming bristle actuators are bidirectional/can be made bidirectional).

  33. EdZ says:

    “very still [...] bristles”
    Very STIFF, I mean.

  34. PocketBrain says:

    They have evolved. And quickly, too. The singularity is almost upon us!!!

  35. Filespace says:

    The vibro motor out of a Nintendo game cube controller works exceptionally well. as it has no external rotating weight an looks wicked cool because of the no moving parts effect the bristle bot has when built with that. and powered off a 9v battery, its quite intense.

  36. strider_mt2k says:

    Being from NJ I tend to style myself more of a Blue Blaze Irregular.


  37. OverK1LL says:

    scrubbing bubbles….

  38. Is there a guide on how to make this?

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