In efforts in making their amusement parks more interactive to the visitors, Disney has created robots that are able to throw and catch objects with human participants...
-see demo video below:
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.