iFling: a madcap, ball flinging, R/C toy

Chief architect: Ben Sams
Throwing arm optimization lead: Po-ting Chen
Sponsor: The San Diego Foundation

The iFling design and prototype.

It is tempting to use personifications (``dynamic'', ``nimble'', ``madcap'', ...) to describe robotic systems; we have in fact given in to such temptations on these pages. These temptations are especially strong for a vehicle endowed with feedback, which often bestows the vehicle with a certain life-like responsiveness, and makes the vehicle particularly engaging as a toy. Thus, we have explored (through three major design iterations) the miniaturization and simplification of our original iHop concept to form a (non-hopping) self-righting Segway dubbed iFling that can pick up and throw ping-pong balls (or swack them around, using the leg as a hockey stick). Due to the very careful attention paid during its design, picking up a ball is in fact quite easy with this vehicle: simply roll over a ball and wedge it between the body and one of the rotating wheels. Throwing a ball is also quite effective, and is achieved in a precise and energetic lacrosse/jai-alai/TracBall fashion.

Note also that iFling uses a custom printed circuit board to connect exactly the right electronics (PIC, accelerometers, motor drivers, etc.) together with a minimum footprint.