Juggling Robots And Machines – A Video Survey

Juggling robots and machines have been around for approximately 40 years. They’ve become more complex over the years, moving from relatively simple machines to humanoid robots with sensors to give them feedback. Let’s take a look at the progression and variety of these creations.

Bounce Juggling Machines

The original juggling robot / machine was created in the 1970s by iconic mathematician and engineer Claude Shannon, the “father of information theory.” His machine, which was named and decorated as W. C. Fields, was made out of an erector set and bounce juggled three steel balls off of a drum head. The decision to bounce juggle was due to several factors. The catches could be made at the top of the arc of each ball, where the speed was very low. The required strength of the tosses was also much less for a bounce juggle. You can see it in the following video.

In 1989, Christopher Atkeson and Stefan Schaal of the Georgia Institute of Technology built a five ball version of Shannon’s machine, seen below.
Below is another, modern version of Claude Shannon’s juggling machine.
Robots That Juggle Two Balls With One “Hand”
The video below shows a robot that uses multiple cameras to control a table tennis paddle to juggle two table tennis balls. It was created by Paul Kulchenko in 2010.
The following robot features an incredibly human-like arm motion and grasping capabilities. It was developed in 2012 by Takahiro Kizaki and Akio Namiki from the Graduate School of Engineering at Chiba University in Japan.
 The following video shows a very impressive robot juggling two balls by bouncing them off of it’s rectangular arm. It was developed by Martin Buehler, an early pioneer in the development of juggling robots.
Robots That Juggle Three Balls With Two “Hands”
 The following video shows a great juggling machine powered by an electric motor and operated using belts, pulleys, cranks, cams, and levers.
The juggling robot shown below uses lateral movement and vertical movement to mimic the scooping motion that jugglers use for a three ball cascade.
The Sarcoman robot shown below is the most humanoid of the juggling robots in appearance.
The next juggling machine we’ll examine performs a very fast reverse cascade.
A Five Ball Juggling Robot
The following juggling robot performs a great five ball cascade. It’s most likely the most complex juggling robot / machine ever created.
Other Types Of Juggling Robots
The following robot can share a three ball cascade with a human, using a complex system of cameras to track the balls in motion to enable catches.
The video below shows a machine that does a “slow cascade”, where each throw is made after that same “hand” has already caught a ball.
The Lego juggling machine below simulates a three ball cascade, but actually utilizes five balls to do so.
The robot shown below can briefly bounce three balls on a single platform.
The next video shows the Sarcoman robot manipulating a flower stick.
The final robot displays its skill at kendama.

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 16 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of twenty-six books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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