Background

We were curious whether the Magnus Effect, which makes spinning objects curve as they fly through the air (the same principle as a curveball in baseball, or topspin in tennis) could be controlled to aim projectiles to a target. We built this project to demonstrate that this is indeed possible.

What it does

A camera mounted on a laser-cut "Nerf gun" detects ArUco visual markers, then spins up two flywheels, each at a different speed, to fire a foam ball and put spin on it. As the ball flies through the air, the spin causes it to curve through the Magnus Effect. The system is calibrated to curve its shots to the target, giving them different spins depending on where it detects the markers. It effectively demonstrates that we can aim projectiles to a target without moving the launcher itself -- just changing their spin.

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