The DLR’s (German Aerospace Center) flagship robot, Rollin’ Justin, can now catch balls thrown in its direction with more than 80% accuracy. As you’ll see in the video demonstration, the robot is able to track and calculate the flight path of two balls thrown towards it simultaneously. It can reliably position its hands to within 2cm of the ball’s estimated catch point in space in just 5 milliseconds. This task is so intense that Justin must make use of external computers to handle some of the processing, but it’s only a matter of time before robots will have on board computers that can do this kind of job with no strings attached. It seems the notion of a household robot that can play catch with the kids or dog isn’t so farfetched after all.
In the 2nd part of the video, Justin prepares a cup of coffee using a standard coffee machine, relying on the tactile sensors in its fingertips to detect what its eyes may not be able to see clearly.
This very impressive work will be presented at ICRA 2011 in Shanghai, China, in early May.