Auburn University

Auburn Engineering alumni, students bring robotic tennis ball collector to market

By Eduardo Medina

Published: Apr 27, 2018 3:00:00 PM

The Tennibot team is shown with a $40,000 prize from Alabama Launchpad. The Tennibot team is shown with a $40,000 prize from Alabama Launchpad.

Tennis courts covered with lime green tennis balls have long drained the energy of players who waste valuable practice time picking them up. However, Auburn startup Tennibot – creator of the world's first autonomous tennis ball collector – is here to change that.

Founded by Auburn Engineering students and alumni, Tennibot has officially hit the market, and is raising capital through a Kickstarter campaign.

The Tennibot team is comprised of engineering alumni Haitham Eletrabi and Lincoln Wang, public relations alumna Kelsey Bixler and current mechanical engineering student David Wahlig. Together, they transformed the tedious task of picking up tennis balls into a hands-free, robotic system.

By using advanced algorithms and computer vision technology, Tennibot is able to freely roam hard and clay courts as it identifies any dispersed tennis ball and places it into an attached ball bucket. Before players practice their slice serves and twisting backhands, they can access the Tennibot app on their phones to select the areas on the court that Tennibot will clear during their session.

The Tennibot can recover balls on both sides of the court, on a single side or only near the net and fence. Tennibot’s four-hour battery life also allows extensive playing time, and a chance to fill the bot’s compartment to the brim with a maximum capacity of 80 tennis balls.

Eletrabi remembers his eureka moment that resulted out of frustration.

“I was out hitting with a tennis ball machine when I realized I spend more time picking up balls than hitting them,” Eletrabi said.

Tennibot roams the court picking up balls
The Tennibot autonomously roams the court picking up tennis balls. 

The Tennibot’s creative concept has brought success in numerous competitions, such as winning the grand prize in the Tennis Industry Association’s inaugural Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge, a “Shark Tank”-esque competition to identify the most innovative product or service in the tennis industry.

Tennibot was also awarded $40,000 from the Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad competition for its ingenuity and marketability.

“It was an amazing, moving feeling,” Eletrabi said. “We are all very proud of the accomplishment.”

The Alabama Launchpad competition allows startups from around the state to compete for a share of funding and receive valuable mentoring.

The regional competition began with 11 teams, each presenting their ideas to a panel of judges at the first round on Feb. 7. Six teams, including Tennibot, advanced to the final and again pitched their business plans for a chance to win funding, and Tennibot emerged successful.

To find out more about Tennibot, visit www.tennibot.com.

Media Contact: Chris Anthony, chris.anthony@auburn.edu, 334.844.3447

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