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Disney creates robot that can play throw and catch using Kinect

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Disney is developing a humanoid robot that can play throw and catch with humans using Kinect technology, according to the Disney Research Hub.

The robot is being designed using an off-the-shelf Kinect that allows it to track color and depth as well as obtain 3D vision of colored balls and track the user's head. The robot is part of an effort to make Disney's themeparks more interactive.

The Disney Research Hub wrote in the description of its video:

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.

The robot can also juggle with a human.