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Gadgets

Adorable robot cheerleaders have a ball

The doll-like dancing robots made by Japanese electronics manufacturer Murata balance themselves perfectly on a single ball.

cheer.jpg
Murata

Step aside, creepy robotic pole dancers! Murata's cheerleaders are about to make their real-world debut at Japanese technology trade show Ceatec, and the diminutive matryoshka-shaped robots are dancing their way right into our hearts.

"Innovation is a way of life at Murata, which is why the company continues to push the boundary of technologies," the company wrote on its official website. "And now, with the goal of using technology to produce happy smiles, Murata introduces the world's first team of robot cheerleaders. Representing the infinite possibilities of electronics, Murata cheerleaders are ready to cheer on innovators everywhere!"

The design of the robots -- a team of 10 cheerleaders -- is based on the company's previous work with the Murata Boy bicycle-riding robot and the Murata Girl unicycle-riding robot, adapted for a ball base and a synchronised performance. Each cheerleader has a robot body that is placed on a separate ball; this is then the platform for the robot's locomotion, allowing a large range of motion and tight turns.

To keep the robots balanced on the ball, each robot is fitted with three gyro sensors -- much like those found in stability controls for vehicles -- which identify leans and then move in that direction, correcting the fall before it can occur. The robot can then wave its arms -- holding pom-poms containing colour-changing LEDs -- without toppling.

To keep synchronised, the robots each have four infrared sensors and five ultrasonic microphones. Data from these sensors is shared via wi-fi, so that each cheerleader's position can be located in real-time -- and each cheerleader knows where its fellows are by using a combination of ultrasonic and infrared signals. This information is processed at a control centre and sent back to the cheerleader's communication module to ensure they don't bump into each other.

Each cheerleader's battery can hold an hour's worth of charge, and they can travel at a speed of 30cm/second within a four-square-metre space. And each stands just 36cm tall -- about the size, Murata said, of a two-litre plastic bottle.

"We hope that our synchronised routines bring smiles to people's faces everywhere and inspire the innovation of the world to tackle new challenges. We're cheering for you!" the company wrote.