Rolling manipulation with a single control

Prasun Choudhury*, Kevin M. Lynch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Underactuated manipulation is the process of controlling several object degrees-of-freedom with fewer robot actuators. Underactuated manipulation allows us to build dexterous robots with only a few actuators. In this paper we explore the possibility of useful dynamic manipulation with only a single actuator. Our case study is a ball rolling in an asymmetrical bowl which can be accelerated along one linear degree-of-freedom. We show that the state of the ball relative to the bowl is controllable by this single controlled acceleration. In particular, it is possible to control the equilibrium orientation of the ball on the three-dimensional manifold SO(3) using this single input. We have built an experimental demonstration of this system and we have constructed a motion planner to find a sequence of motions of the bowl to accomplish a desired reorientation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-487
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2002


  • Global controllability
  • Motion planning
  • Nonholonomic and underactuated systems
  • Rolling manipulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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