Juggling Disney Robot

If you want to juggle with someone who will never drop the ball, then come to Disney! Disney Research has recently been working on more interaction between entertainment robots and guests at its theme parts, that juggles and throws balls with a human player.

The robot uses the video provided by an external camera, and runs the information through a Kalman filter, which runs many calculations that include the uncertainties and approximate values of unknown variables. This filter allows the computer to make a more accurate measurement than it would with only a single measurement.

By using the calculations from the Kalman filter, the robot can accurately catch balls as long as they are thrown close to the robot’s hand. This hand is in a cup shape to catch the ball. The robot can then throw the ball back 8 ft to the thrower. Speeding up this process allows the robot to juggle three balls with a personas well.

But of course, if these robots are going to be communicating with people, they need to seem a little bit more… human. And so, this robot “follows the ball” with its eyes in the air, and runs one of many animations when the ball is dropped, including shaking its head or shrugging its shoulders.

Altogether, this robot aims to better robot-human interaction, while at the same time maintaining a safe distance. This robot shows that a world of robots is not all that far off, and their potential for entertainment is quite great. Almost like a performer that never fails.

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