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Now, balance on your unicycle while staying in one spot!

June 16, 2011 - London

Existing mono-wheel motorcycles in which the rider sits inside a giant rotating wheel and steers by leaning can be pretty hard to control when trying to squeeze into gaps.

Now, Patryk Cieslak, a PhD student at AGH University of Science and Technology in Cracow, Poland, and colleagues have built a robot that could be used to squeeze into tight spaces during search and rescue missions, or possibly even as a form of transport, reports New Scientist.

Their robot is packaged within a single wheel: its motor, battery and controls remain stationary in the centre of the wheel while a rubber tyre rotates around the outside.

To keep it upright, the team has placed a weighted lever that can tilt to either side within the body of the wheel.

"There are many potential uses for this kind of robot because of its thin body, simple construction, good mobility and traction, and the efficiency of using only one wheel," said Cieslak.

Goes without saying, the usage of only one wheel will make the control a lot more complicated.

The robot will be harder to steer the faster it goes, as the lever has to overcome an increased gyroscopic effect - a mechanism by means of which a rotor is journaled to spin around an axis.


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