It’s no secret that Disney has always been at the cornerstone of innovation, or should I say Innovention? Huh?! Get it?! Ah, never mind. Anyway, I found this really cool video awhile back on a project that Disney’s Imagineers have been working on, and it is scheduled to make an appearance at a theme park near you. Disney has created a unique interactive robot that can play catch with any Disney park guest.
The robot can also juggle and express frustration when you or it misses the ball.
Entertainment robots in theme park environments typically do not allow for physical interaction and contact with guests. However, catching and throwing back objects is one form of physical engagement that still maintains a safe distance between the robot and participants. Using a theme park type animatronic humanoid robot, we developed a test bed for a throwing and catching game scenario. We use an external camera system (ASUS Xtion PRO LIVE) to locate balls and a Kalman ﬁlter to predict ball destination and timing. The robot’s hand and joint-space are calibrated to the vision coordinate system using a least-squares technique, such that the hand can be positioned to the predicted location. Successful catches are thrown back two and a half meters forward to the participant, and missed catches are detected to trigger suitable animations that indicate failure.
No word yet when we can plan on seeing the interactive robot appear in Disney theme parks, but we will keep you posted.