Self-balancing MiP robot is ready to roll


April 4, 2014

MiP balances on two wheels, using the mobile inverted pendulum principle

MiP balances on two wheels, using the mobile inverted pendulum principle

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You may never be able to afford your own Segway, but soon you'll be able to buy something similar for just a hundred bucks. You won't be able to ride it, but it might ultimately end up being more fun. It's Wowwee's MiP toy robot, which performs a variety of activities while balancing on its two wheels.

MiP was designed in a collaboration between Wowwee and the Coordinated Robotics Lab at the University of California, San Diego. It balances just like the Segway, using the mobile inverted pendulum principle (hence its name) – in a nutshell, this means that the bottom of the robot is constantly moving back and forth, in order to keep the weight of the top section centered above it.

It can be controlled via XYZ Interactive's GestureSense system, in which an onboard 3D sensory system recognizes and responds to the user's hand gestures.

If users prefer, though, it will also respond to commands sent via Bluetooth, from an iOS or Android mobile device running the free MiP app. That app lets them steer it in real time using onscreen controls, preprogram paths for it to follow, or play games in which it boxes or races with another MiP, dances to user-supplied music, or balances multiple objects on its tray accessory. It can also avoid obstacles while autonomously roaming.

The robot runs for about four to six hours of "moderate usage" on four AAA batteries, although a rechargeable model is in the works. In the meantime, the current version is now available for pre-order at a US-shipping-included price of US$119. It will also be showing up in BestBuy stores starting in May, priced at $100.

MiP can be seen in action in the video below.

Source: Wowwee

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Wowee is a neat company that has done a lot of platforms. Robosapien had 2 legs, RoboRover ( used a track, TriBot used a 3 wheel config (, and RoboMe used rear wheels (

I cringe every time I see 2 million dollar government funded bipeds that can hardly move and need to be tethered to dedicated power feeds but seeing WoWee launch products like this in the $100 price range gives me hope.

Some people insist that pipeds are the future because they can climb stairs but the first time I saw this balancing technology uses was on the stair climbing ibot wheelchair that inspired the segway.

If it were on me to solve the problem my solution would look suspiciously like this:

I'm a little surprised more robotics companies aren't using a 6 wheel configuration like that. It's certainly more efficient than legs many companies will probably throw millions of dollars of government funds at at bipeds for 20 more years anyway.


Androbot built a two wheel robot that didn't need any fancy control system to stay upright. It used angled and tapered wheels.

It did wobble back and forth a bit while moving, but didn't need active control to stay upright when stopped. The engineer wanted more angle on the wheels and the battery placed lower, but the designers thought that would make the robot too wide.

Combine that concept with active control and you'll have a rock steady biwheel robot that uses much less power to stay upright when moving and no power to stay upright when stopped.

Gregg Eshelman
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