Disney Humanoid Plays Catch
Disney Research in Pittsburgh has released a video showing one of their current projects to make theme park robots more interactive.
The new robot, a full-sized (but non-walking) humanoid, can catch and throw balls with untrained park-goers. It uses an off-the-shelf ASUS Xtion PRO LIVE camera system to track both the balls, and the user’s head. The robot reacts to the user’s (ahem, I mean park-goers) movements, as well as its own success or failure in catching the ball. A number of participants spontaneously started talking to the robot, though it apparently has no conversational skills at this point.
Interacting with humans has always been one of the most challenging demands for a robot, and while simple, what this robot does would have been impractical only a few years ago. I think it’s a sign of how far we’ve come, and a hint of what to expect in the future. Check out the video below.