Disney teaches humanoid robot to play catch and juggle

By on November 23, 2012, 2:00 PM

The happiest place on Earth has taught one of its humanoid robotic subordinates (for now) to play catch and juggle with willing human participants in an impressive display of creepy animatronic autonomy. Thanks to Disney, mankind has just slipped several minutes closer to its imminent enslavement by robotic overlords of the future.

In order for the robot to play catch, designers gave the unit a cup-shaped, human-like hand. The robot uses an Asus Xtion Pro Live camera to track faces and incoming balls -- a device which works similarly to the Microsoft Kinect. Incidentally, the project actually began with a Kinect camera but researchers eventually settled on the Xtion Pro Live because they didn't need Kinect's panning motor or microphone.

Once the robot catches a ball, it gently tosses it back to the person. The robot is quick enough that designers were able to make it "juggle" with human partners through a rapid succession of tosses and catches.

In addition to playing catch and team-juggling, researchers managed to add a little finesse to the robot. When it doesn't catch the ball -- and depending on where the ball lands -- the artificial humanoid is programmed to shrug, follow the ball over its shoulder or direct a somber gaze toward its "feet" below in seeming disappointment. The robot also tracks the ball with its face, giving onlookers the illusion its following the ball with its eyes.

Disney hopes to introduce such juggling automatons at its amusement parks.




User Comments: 9

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---agissi--- ---agissi---, TechSpot Paladin, said:

That's cool!

1 person liked this | lipe123 said:

They couldn't give him a more creepy face if they tried huh?

Prosercunus said:

They couldn't give him a more creepy face if they tried huh?

That is the face you will see just as the lightning strikes as you are lying in bed. Shortly before it stabs you.

Lionvibez said:

They couldn't give him a more creepy face if they tried huh?

That is the face you will see just as the lightning strikes as you are lying in bed. Shortly before it stabs you.

lmao!

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

It will probably be seized by the government and then taught how to hold weapons

1 person liked this |
Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

It will probably be seized by the government and then taught how to hold weapons

Actually.. you know... I was thinking this is the perfect project for programming robots how to perfectly lob grenades at their human targets.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

It will probably be seized by the government and then taught how to hold weapons

Not likely. Once they install the Glock.ini and properly calibrate the articulation algorithms, a Boston Dynamics PETMAN unit will mysteriously show up and the Disney scientists involved with this project will mysteriously disappear. You never encroach on the territory of a firm with a DoD contract. :P

treetops treetops said:

Meh human soldiers are way cheaper

Pan Wah said:

The first paragraph seems to be saying that the robot can "juggle with willing human participants" - surely a breach of health and safety?

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