When you think of Disney, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Cute, playful characters? Expensive theme park tickets? Constant nagging from your children? Cartoons that go back as far as you do? If we had to guess, we'd say one of those things are most likely, but what isn't likely is this: a crazy robotic being with some pretty intense athletic skills. While Disney's empire is largely built around cartoon characters and theme parks, there's an entire 'research' arm of the company that is able to do some pretty wild and wonderful technological things.
Disney Research Pittsburgh has just published a new video of a humanoid robot, which looks eerily like something out of Terminator, that is capable of playing catch. Yes, seriously! And we aren't just talking about catching a ball thrown at random by a human, but also tossing it back to the human, completing the loop.
The video shows the arm making extremely precise movements in order to catch the ball, right down to lowering his hand at the last moment to soften the landing and prevent the ball from bouncing out. Is it perfect? No. Untrained throwers had more trouble tossing it to the robot in a way that it could handle, but trained workers were so talented that they could actually "juggle" with it in rapid fire fashion.
Have a look at the video for proof. It puts a whole new (nerdy) face on Disney, and it's one we're sure we can all appreciate.