Frequently asked questions
GroundBot has piqued the curiosity of people from around the world. Here are the most common questions we have been asked.
Q: Why do you consider the robot to be so reliable and robust?
A: Due to its large circumference and lightweight, GroundBot can move through sand, mud and snow without getting stuck. In addition to this, GroundBot is completely sealed, so there’s nothing sticking out that can get caught or broken since all cameras and sensors are contained within the sphere. Because it is sealed, sand cannot get inside and cause mechanical problems.
Q: Why is it important with a low center of gravity?
A: At rest, GroundBot’s center of gravity is indeed very low, concentrated at the end of a pendulum. But it is not so much the center of gravity that is of interest, but how close the center of gravity is to the inner wall of the sphere. Why? Think of a lever and fulcrum: the longer the lever, the greater the leverage. By making the pendulum as long as possible, GroundBot gains extra leverage for rolling over large obstacles.
Q: How does the drive mechanism work?
A: When the internal pendulum is lifted in the desired direction of travel, the center of mass gets displaced in front of the contact point between the ball and the ground and GroundBot starts rolling.
Q: Why doesn’t GroundBot get stuck in sand?
A: Conventional surveillance robots can weigh up to 10 times more than GroundBot and can easily get bogged down. Not only is it light, but GroundBot’s circumference is larger than a standard automobile tire, so it can take all kinds of terrain in its stride.
Q: What are the limitations of the robot? What can it not do?
A: GroundBot is a mobile sensor platform. It can host cameras, a range of different sensors, as well as microphones and loudspeakers. It cannot house robot arms or weapons. GroundBot cannot climb stairs.
Q: How fast can it go? What does it weigh? How big is GroundBot?
A: GroundBot can travel up to 10 km/h (6 mph). It weighs 25 kilos and is 60 cm high.
Q: How far can it go between charges?
A: It can operate for 8-16 hours depending on mission profile.
Q: How do you connect other cameras or sensors as payload?
A: You can integrate a large number of cameras and sensors including:
- Wide-angled cameras – 360° vision
- Night vision (IR) cameras
- Microphone and loudspeakers
- Sensors for radioactivity, gas, humidity, flame, heat and smoke detection, biological material, explosives, narcotics
Q: How long does it take to recharge?
A: Just 3-4 hours. Fully charged, GroundBot operates for 8-16 hours depending on mission profile.
Q: Why use a robot for security applications?
A: Guarding duties that are dirty, dull or dangerous can be performed by a robot instead of a human being.
Q: How did you come up with the idea?
A: The European Space Agency was looking for an exploration vehicle that could withstand the severe conditions on the planet Mercury. It had to be robust, efficient and very reliable.