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Robots using ball(s) as spherical wheels have the advantage of omnidirectional motion. Some of these robots use only a single ball as their wheel and dynamically balance on it. However, driving a ball wheel is not straightforward. These robots usually use one or more motor-driven rollers or wheels in frictional contact with the ball wheel. Some slippage can occur with these schemes, so it is important to measure the actual rotation of the ball wheel for good control. This paper proposes one method for measuring the three dimensional rotation of a sphere, which is applicable to the case of a ball wheel. The system measures surface speed by using two or more optical mouse sensors and transforms them into the angular velocity vector of the ball, followed by integration to give the rotational angle. Experiments showed the correctness of this method, yielding an error of approximately 1%, with a 10 ms response.
Date of Conference: 9-13 May 2011