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Pneumatic Ball-Levitating Robot Wins at Beer Pong

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floating non-spherical object

This gimbaled air-jet powered robot makes symmetrical and asymmetrical objects like water bottles float.

Credit: YouTube

Using an air-jet powered robot and complex algorithms, a pair of grad students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are guiding "floating" balls through an obstacle course of hoops, making asymmetrical objects like apples and water bottles float, and launching balls across a room with precision accuracy.

A computer controls the gimbaled air-jet system with two degrees of motion to not only "levitate" two different-sized balls at once, but also to make them follow difficult trajectories through obstacles, and even land in a small bucket of water all the way across the room.

Stereo vision cameras keep tabs on the objects, feeding a control algorithm data that allows the jet to keep objects at equilibrium and under control. Oh, and it peels onions.

View a video of the robo-air jet system making objects float. 

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