Department for Automation, Biocybernetics and Robotics

Accelerating gyroscopic device called Powerball with a robot

Research activity duration: 2006 - 2007
Research area: Automation and Intelligent Control of Robots
Activity leader: Andrej Gams
Leon Žlajpah


The task requires synchronized movement of the robot and the device. We developed a novel approcah to achieve movement synchronization. We reached and even surpassed human performance.

Activity description

Accelerating a gyroscopic toy called Powerball with a robot is a demanding task that requires synchronization of the robot's movement with the rotation of the rotor. Classical control algorithms failed to achieve human-like performance. We developed a new method for synchronizing the robot with the rotor, with which we reached and surpassed an average human operator. We managed to achieve rotor speeds in excess of 14000 rpm.


The method utilizes kernel functions to reproduce the movement pattern. The kernel functions are distributed over the phase of a period of mevement. The information on the phase is obtained from the measured exerted torque. By anchoring the kernel functions to the torque we reached synchronization of the device and the robot and could achieve effective rotor spin-up. This method later led to the development of the two-layerd imitation system.



Powerball spin-up with a robot, 2007.



  • Gams A., Žlajpah L., Lenarčič J., Imitating human acceleration of a gyroscopic device, 2007. [More]


  • Gams A., Lahajnar L., Žlajpah L., Lenarčič J., Posnemanje ritmičnega gibanja z robotom: pospeševanje rotorja žiroskopske igrače Power ball = Imitating rhythmic movement with a robot: accelerating a gyroscopic toy - Power ball, 2006. [More]