When most people think about servo motors, they think about how they make things easier and more efficient. This is absolutely true. Without servo motors there’s no way that factories could operate at the scale they operate today. The human work rate is nowhere near that of automation. But more than just making the impossible possible, servo motors are extremely versatile. Servo motors can be used for many different applications, resulting in incredible accomplishments.
Take a moment to imagine playing billiards on a ship. Not a docked ship in a no wake zone where a game might be possible if infuriating, but a floating ship out at sea. Waves tossing and rocking the vessel back and forth. Sure, this could create a new game involving hitting moving targets and relying on luck, but a game of pool as we know it would be impossible. The balls would roll to and fro and shots would bend and curve against the player’s will.
However, a Norwegian company called Stable has developed a pool table equipped with servo motors that makes it possible to play a game of pool at sea. Stable’s table stays level no matter what angle the ship tilts, meaning that billiard balls will stay in place until they are hit. Electrical servo motors control two linear actuators that respond to the ships movement by keeping the pool table level and steady. One of the actuators accounts for pitch while the other actuator accounts for roll, keeping all other movements locked. The result is a perfectly motionless pool table for the high seas.
This application of servo motors is by no means as influential or important as the use of servos in manufacturing or packaging, but it is still pretty incredible. This new use of servo motors could ultimately end up creating new technologies in other, arguably more useful fields.