Billiard ‘bots turn classic game on its head
By Design Engineering staffMotion Control Research Robotics University
Remote-controlled mobile robots replace standard cue sticks and transform pool into a 'very competitive and fast' version of its former self
A year ago, Carl Seguin woke up with the intriguing idea of turning the game of billiards on its head. So in the subsequent months, he put his idea into motion, literally, and developed the BilliardBots, precision-built, remote-controlled mobile robots that replace cue sticks normally used to pocket pool balls.
So what functionality do these little three-inch gamers offer? “They can either hit the balls backward with the arc shaped bumper,” Seguin (previously featured in Design Engineering for his innovative variable volume hydraulic reservoir) explains, “or, for accurate moves, they can grab the ball by their front opening to push them to the pockets.” The player controls the force of the hit simply by altering the ’bot’s variable speed (between zero and 3.5 m/sec).
The rules are simple: once the balls are dispersed after breaking the triangle (with a cue stick or a robot), the players decide who will take the solid-coloured balls and who will get the striped ones. “What makes this game so much fun?” he asks. Well, he answers, unlike regular billiard matches, players in this version simultaneously rush to pocket their designated balls, “thus it’s very competitive and fast.”
Not unlike for a video game, quick fingers are a necessity, and in order to keep tight reigns on the movement and direction of the mechatronic ball handlers, Seguin adapted a pair of Playstation controllers. Once all the balls of one type have been eliminated, the successful player will pocket the 8 ball to win the game, similar to regular billiard rules. “It requires dexterity like a video game,” he adds.
>>Watch them in action
This isn’t Seguin’s first kick at the can at this kind of engineering. Previously to this, he had developed a robotic soccer game (more on Page 3) by designing a series of robots pushing a golf ball.
» Engineering details and internal photos on next page