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Disney robot

Disney’s Star Wars droid-lookalike robot plays catch, could let dads stay on couch

Whether inspired by its recent acquisition of Lucasfilm or not, Disney Research is developing a robot that can play catch, juggle and interact with human counterparts. Using a theme park-type animatronic humanoid robot that looks eerily like the droids from Star Wars, Disney has developed the robot to the point where it can play catch with a human.

Stephan Lourens
Born 20 years too early. Curses sometimes. Thinks too much. Believes plug-and-play is the best invention ever. If asked what he wants for his birthday he will... More


Many robots have the ability to juggle, and theme park robots are typically just a viewer attraction at the moment, but in future we could see them physically interact with guests, giving the idea that I, Robot was not just another blockbuster, and probably making a few fathers sit up and shake in their boots. Or smile.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83eGcht7IiI&w=650&h=366]

A depth-aware motion camera, and obviously some very intricate mathematics which we are not going to bore you with, calculate and predict the motion and location of coloured balls thrown by a human. The robot catches them and will throw the ball back up to a distance of about 2.5 metres. Even missed catches are programmed to show signs of failure, with a shaking of the head, looking behind, looking down, or a shrug of the shoulders. The robot’s hand is slightly modified into a cup like shape to assist with catching a ball.