Disney Research Pittsburgh has just released the video below which demonstrates one of its latest projects: an audio animatronic robot that can interact with people by playing catch with them. The system uses an off-the-shelf Microsoft Kinect (according to the video’s narration) along with an external camera system (ASUS Xtion PRO LIVE) to locate balls and a Kalman ?lter to predict ball destination and timing. So not only is the robot able to track a human’s position and size by the location of their head, but it can attempt to move its hand to catch the ball. If the robot misses the catch, it’s fully aware and even responds with one of several different humorous animations to elicit a response from the person interacting with it.
Disney Research has also been able to use its system to successfully juggle up to three balls at a time when a professional juggler is used as the participant.
According to the video and its description, Disney Research is hopeful that this product leads to a fully interactive experience between guests and audio animatronics in environments such as theme parks, while managing to keep the guest a safe distance from the robots.
This morning, I was awoken by an assault of doorbell rings, only to find there was no one at the door when I finally managed to drag myself down the stairs. After muttering a few choice words that don’t belong here, I noticed a small box at my feet, which I promptly picked up and examined. After determining that it wasn’t ticking, I noticed a bit of handwriting buried under a cake of dust. ‘Do not open until after Christmas,’ it read. Dejected, I slowly turned back around to return to bed with box in hand, counting the days left until I was allowed to open it. As I trudged back up the stairs, the box tilted, allowing more of the dust to spill to the floor, exposing the rest of the message: ’1958.’
It was then a spark of inspiration hit me and I ran the rest of the way up and, after searching for several minutes on Google, I confirmed my suspicions — today is after Christmas, 1958. Who knew?
I ripped open the box only to reveal another box, this one clearly showing its age with scratches and stress and expected wear and tear, but still in pretty decent shape. And what was inside was even more intriguing — something so well preserved, I’d believe it if you told me it wouldn’t even be available to buy until later this week — it was from the Robots Vinylmation Series, available exclusively at Disney Store and DisneyStore.com beginning July 22, 2011.
The charming series appears to be inspired by the collectible tin toy robots of the 1950s and 1960s, with each figure programmed with its own personality evidenced by its name and graphics. I feel like I lucked out by receiving Security-Bot designed by Disney Store artist Gerald Mendez. The figure has a unique look to it, which you can see in the video and image gallery below, with a mostly clear head and an additional element placed inside the center of its head. Gerald also created Steampunk-Bot and Ignition-Bot from the series. Other contributing Disney Store artists include Enrique Pita (Radio-Bot, Love-Bot, UltraSonic-Bot and El Elektro-Bot), Oskar Mendez (Atomic-Bot, Communication-Bot) and Jim Valeri (Tesla-Bot, Cranky-Bot).
As usual, there are 12 figures in all — the eleven mentioned above, plus a mystery chaser. As mentioned, they will be available beginning July 22, 2011 exclusively at Disney Store and DisneyStore.com and will come in a blind-box for $9.95 each. The figures use the new Vinylmation mold.
In addition to the 3″ series, there are 3 limited edition 9″ figures which include Reflector-Bot by Oskar Mendez, Silly-Bot by Marcella Lau and Salvage-Bot by Jim Valeri. Each of these figures will retail for $39.95 and be limited to an edition size of 700 pieces each.
Below is our gallery of images of the Robots Vinylmation series as well as the 9″ limited edition figures. You can click on any of the thumbnails to see a larger version. Unfortunately, most of these images have been taken from a printed press kit, so the quality isn’t as great as we would like, so we hope to replace these images soon with better quality.