Mobile robots could replace ball boys and ball girls in future

Sports Reporter
Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Four students of Vishwakarma Institute of Technology have developed a robot that could be effectively used to do work a ball boy or ball girl does during a tennis match.

Pune: Four students of Vishwakarma Institute of Technology have developed a robot that could be effectively used to do work a ball boy or ball girl does during a tennis match.

Though it would take some time before such an implement is introduced in tennis as it would require clearance from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) this could be safely used during practice and training sessions when picking up balls hit all over the court becomes tiresome.

Kaiwalya Belsare, Avinash Kangare, Sarang Badgujar, Sumedh Pawar are the four students of VIT College Pune, who developed the robot that helps players on the tennis court.
Speaking about their innovation, Kaiwalya Belsare said the idea behind this robot came when they saw tennis players often hit balls all over the tennis court.

“This results in accumulation of balls in every corner of the tennis court, especially during practice sessions. It is a tiresome job for the players to stop play and manually pick the balls. This halt also affects their focus on the game and it also very time-consuming,” Belsare said.

“A mobile robot will help tennis players to focus on their game rather than the balls which are hit out of the court. The project is part of Schaeffler India’s Open Inspiration India program being held in Talegoan, MIDC, Pune.

A total of 14 teams have been shortlisted from 114 projects submitted from all over India. The students said that the prototype took almost 18 months to develop. 

They were guided by VIT Professor Milind Patwardhan. Schaeffer’s technical team and VIT alumnus Suraj Swami were the technical advisors on the project.

On this occasion Dr Alfred Rivinus, CTO Europe-Schaeffler, who is part of the jury for the final round, elaborated, “We are excited to introduce this program in India and have received a very encouraging response from the student community. Mutual inspiration and thinking outside the box are the focal topics at the Schaeffler “Open Inspiration” Program.

How the Mobile Robot works
    The mobile robot autonomously picks up the tennis balls on a tennis field. Relative localization of a two-wheeled differential drive robot is achieved by the means of odometry.
    The closed-loop system features feedback from wheel encoders by taking into consideration the parameters such as payload, velocity, the diameter of wheel and distance between the wheels. Implementation of advanced Image Processing techniques to find and trace tennis balls has been showcased
    It also involves the development of a DC motor driver with n-channel enhancement type MOSFETs for driving the motors. A robust mechanical design suited to the requirements facilitates picking the tennis balls off the field.

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