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ETH Zurich's One-Wheel Cubli: Balancing on a Point with a Single Reaction Wheel

Eight years ago, ETH Zurich introduced the Cubli, a robotic cube that can balance on its corners and edges with the help of three internal reaction wheels and a complex program. But deciding that the number of degrees of freedom for a self-balancing cube was too simple, researchers at ETH Zurich built a One-Wheel Cubli (OWC) that balances on a point with only one single reaction wheel.

The OWC uses its single reaction wheel for pitch and roll control, while the degree of yaw is not controlled, which means that the OWC can rotate around its pivot point. The presence of more degrees of freedom than actuators makes the OWC an underactuated device. However, the researchers were able to create a control system that separates small fast movements and large slow movements, allowing one actuator to control them both independently.

The long, weighted beam design of the OWC is what sets it apart from the original Cubli. It's there to maximize the difference in inertia between the two axles being steered independently. After several iterations of the hardware failed, the researchers went to great lengths to create a more detailed modeling approach, which they then used in a control system that was ultimately successful.

The One-Wheel Cubli is a fascinating example of how robots can be designed to perform complex tasks with limited resources. The underactuated device requires complete control over two completely different axes, and the researchers at ETH Zurich were able to achieve this with careful modeling and a unique control system.

If you're looking to hire a robot worker or create a robot job, the One-Wheel Cubli is a great example of the type of innovation that's possible in the field of robotics. With the right approach, robots can be designed to perform tasks that were previously thought impossible, opening up new possibilities for automation and efficiency. Whether you're looking for a robot to perform a specific task or you're interested in exploring the possibilities of robotics, the One-Wheel Cubli is a great place to start.

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