What is a POD?

A POD, Part Orienting Device, is a low degree-of-freedom machine capable of producing spatial trajectories and rotations. A single “part orienting device”, or POD, can be used in a task that might otherwise require a robot or multiple single degree-of-freedom mechanisms. Or, see the slightly more technical description of our goals below.

State of PODs Research

The POD research team has been developing the idea of PODs, this website is a culmination of everything learned and everything that has been developed. This website includes the theory behind the idea of spherical mehcanisms and PODs, the software tools used to design spherical mechanisms, the devices that have been created, and information on team members and publications from the team.


Through the PODs research the team has continually developed many mechanisms and devices. To see the hardware that the team has developed please visit the hardware page.


There are many challenges associated with designing PODs and other spatial mechanisms. The research team has developed software to assist with the challenges of designing PODs and spatial mechanisms. To learn more visit the software page

Technically, what is a POD?

The goal of this research is to develop a methodology for designing low complexity mechanisms capable of performing a non-trivial translation and reorientation of a part in an automated assembly procedure. These mechanisms would offer many of the benefits of a robot with lower material costs and programming complexity.

The design process begins by specifying the desired initial and final positions and orientations of a part. Further constraints can be placed upon the design, such as error tolerance, maximum acceleration or workspace obstacles. The design procedure will find the optimal solution based upon the provided constraints and the desire to construct the mechanism economically.

The theoretical impact of this research is to incorporate real world constraints such as manufacturability and robustness into the design of spatial linkages. Current research in this field does not fully address these issues. The additional constraints will need to be formulated mathematically so that the space of possible mechanisms can be searched for the optimal solution. For example, when selecting a motor it is important to balance the benefits of high torque, such as performance time, with the drawbacks such as higher cost and weight. The exact formulation of this problem is what needs to be determined.

The practical benefit is to provide an alternative to a full robot in complex automated tasks. The low degree-of-freedom mechanism can be built cheaper, perform as well and have the extra benefit of requiring less power to run it.

PODs Collaboration:

The PODs project is a collaborative research effort between investigators at the University of Dayton and the Florida Institute of Technology. This site contains the results to date of a three-year effort currently funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that began in late 2004.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0422731 & 0422705.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.