Thursday, May 5, 2011

Robot ballcatcher

Here's your chance to see a robotic expert ballcatcher in action. It's made possible by the German fellows at DLR, who have done some sophisticated programming that has the robot determine and continually update a predicted path of the ball. It can then position its hand towards it in order to bring about a smooth catch. The robot can even do this with two balls thrown simultaneously, so it definitely outranks any virtual character in catching qualities, even the Frisbee catching dog in Wii Sports Resort. Imagine the children of the future throwing balls over with inexhaustible robots, or a robotic fridge throwing you a full can of juice and receiving the empty one from a distance, or vending machines that you can just throw money instead of having to fumble and tumble to get that coin or card into the slot. The commercial opportunities of giving technology these basic motor skills are quite endless.

It's a little bit of a pity that this level of artificial intelligence still requires the robot to be hooked up to external processors, but at least we're getting nearer at unraveling and emulating the human embodiment.

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