TechCrunch Makers: Bossa Nova Robotics & Mobi

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When I first saw Bossa Nova Robotics Mobi I was amazed. It was a robot that stood on a single, large ball and could roll through tight spaces and between people. It seemed like a ludicrously cool circus trick. The folks at BNR were kind enough to give us a quick tour of their facility in Pittsburgh, Penn. where they’re commercializing the product and hope to bring it to market next year. The Mobi moves effortlessly across almost any smooth surface and, in an odd way, looks like Rosie the Robot from the Jetsons.

The founder, Sarjoun Skaff, brought Mobi to fruition after working on earlier prototypes at the Field Robotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University. He and his team have built a prototype and research platform so academics can use Mobi as a base for their projects. The technology itself came from the famed Ralph Hollis, a researcher at CMU who invented Mobi’s form of locomotion. In the video below, we were given the rare opportunity to see the future of Mobi and other ballbots and to really understand how these devices will help us in the future.

Mobi gave us a peek at what robots could look like a few short years from now and I, for one, welcome our ball-bottomed overlords.