May 16, 2012 at 12:55 PM ET
A one-armed robot has learned to juggle two balls at once, an impressive feat that promises to shed light on dynamic human motions, according to the Japanese researchers behind the machine.
The juggling robot was created by a group at Chiba University and presented Tuesday at the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.
The robot is equipped with a three-fingered hand, each with 2 or 3 degrees of motion, and an arm with 7 degrees of motion. These pieces are coupled with a high-speed vision system (500 frames per second) that allows a controller to plan for catches and throws, the IEEE Automation Blog explains.
The combo allows the balls to be tracked through the air as the robot makes a series of throwing calculations for each cycle. In other words, the robot isn't just doing a pre-programmed juggling act.
That said, the robot can only juggle two balls at once — not three — and it can only keep up the routine for about five catches before it loses a ball. That’s partly because it lacks a shoulder joint and is thus unable to twist when a ball is thrown out of alignment, which happens, even for robots.
The team will keep working on improving the robot's throwing skills and, we hope, add in more balls.
What's the point of all this?
These robots could make for a new class of scary clowns, for one. And since juggling is a complex task, studying it in robots will help researchers understand skillful and dynamic human-like motions, IEEE notes.
— Via IEEE
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