One day, we’ll blame Disney for the robot takeover

November 26, 2012

For whatever reason, Disney has decided that it's a good idea to design a line of theme-park robots that can track the movements of people and throw things at them. (Okay, the video is neat, but still, think of the apocalypse potential):

Here's an explanation from the Disney Research Hub. They wanted to design robots that could play catch with humans--not an easy task:

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. Human to robot partner juggling (three ball cascade pattern, one hand for each partner) is also achieved by speeding up the catching/throwing cycle. We tested the throwing/catching system on six participants (one child and five adults, including one elderly), and the juggling system on three skilled jugglers.

Admittedly clever. But no mention of what happens when the robots become self-aware and take over the whole theme park. At least we've got a new sci-fi movie premise.

(Via io9's Meredith Woerner.)

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Dylan Matthews · November 26, 2012