Unicycling Murata Robot Is Back, This Time Faster

Muratagirl, the unicycling robot, is back at Japan's Ceatec with improvements and some new tricks.

The updated robot, made by Murata, is used to promote science and technology to Japanese children. Muratagirl can go around a curve with a diameter of 75 centimeters and ride over a balance beam just two centimeters wide. The 2009 model can also cycle at 15 centimeters per second, triple the speed of the 2008 model.

Muratagirl has two slant detection gyro sensors which lets it maintain its balance by controlling the rotation of the wheel for forward and backward motion. The sensor also controls the rotation of the fly-wheel built into the robot's chest for side-to-side balance. This year the company added a gyro sensor for direction detection when riding around a curve.

The robot also has ultrasonic sensors for detecting obstacles. Muratagirl is 50 centimeters high and weighs six kilograms.

In a demonstration on Tuesday, it took Murata engineers a minute or two to position the robot on the balance beam, but after that, Muratagirl was able to drive across the beam without falling. If the robot did, it'd fall onto cushions positioned on either side of the beam.

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