Carnegie Mellon University
October 25, 2012

News Brief: Bossa Nova Develops Commercial Version of Ballbot

ballbotBossa Nova Robotics, a company founded by Robotics Institute Ph.D. alumnus Sarjoun Skaff, announced Oct. 23 at the RoboBusiness Leadership Summit that it is producing mObi, the first commercially available robot that uses a unique locomotion technology pioneered by the Robotics Institute's Ralph Hollis in his Ballbot robot.

Like Ballbot, mObi has no wheels or legs, but balances and moves atop a large sphere, similar in size to a bowling ball. The robot balances dynamically, enabling the robot to be made both tall and slim. Its size, combined with the ability to move omnidirectionally, makes it particularly suitable for maneuvering in human environments.

"MObi is the pre-cursor for the future of personal robots," said Martin Hitch, CEO of San Francisco-based Bossa Nova. "Our unique ballbot technology will provide researchers and developers with an incredible platform for developing consumer-facing applications ideal for business and home environments."

Hollis, research professor of robotics, unveiled his Ballbot in 2006. The robot remains an active research project in his lab. Bossa Nova has licensed the technology from CMU, but the spherical-locomotion technology used in mObi is patented by the company.

"We're proud of our relationship with CMU and the engineering talent we have at our company," Skaff said. "The team has successfully developed a path to commercialization for one of the most engaging and challenging locomotion platforms. We look forward to working with a broad range of robotics researchers and HRI [human-robot interaction] specialists as we launch our research platform next year."

Bossa Nova's iLoveRobots division previously has produced toy robots that incorporated Robotics Institute technology.