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Disney’s new robot plays catch with your kids

Disney Research is building a catch-playing humanoid to give theme park visitors an interactive experience with robots.Disney Research via YouTube

For better – or worse – the research lab side of Disney is building a robot that plays a decent game of catch, meaning parents can keep their eyes on Facebook while their kids get a bit of exercise.

The robot has a human-like appearance and uses a Microsoft Kinect to track the balls. After a few practice tosses, almost anyone can successfully play catch with it.

The humanoid is intended to give theme-park visitors a means to interact with robots without actually touching them and accidently causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage, according to the Disney Research video below explaining the project. 

The robot is programmed to turn its head, giving the impression it is maintaining body presence with its playmate and tracking the ball with its eyes. When it misses a bad toss, the robot moves its head as if looking for the lost ball or bowing in embarrassment. Other times, it just shrugs its shoulders.

Importantly, there are no temper tantrums or rants about lost scholarship opportunities. Instead, the robot keeps playing, entertaining the old fashioned way, with a twist of the future thrown in for good measure.

 – via Mashable 

John Roach is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. To learn more about him, check out his website. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.