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Relative Positions in 2D

We introduce the idea of attaching a coordinate frame to an object. We can describe points on the object by constant vectors with respect to the object’s coordinate frame, and then relate those to the points described with respect to a world coordinate frame. We introduce a simple algebraic notation to describe this.  

2D Geometry Refresher

We revisit the fundamentals of geometry that you would have learned at school: Euclidean geometry, Cartesian or analytic geometry, coordinate frames, points and vectors.  

Introduction to 2D Geometry

We learn how to describe the position and orientation of objects on a 2-dimensional plane. We introduce the notion of reference frames as a basis for describing the position of objects in two dimensions.  

Robots in History

Humans have long been fascinated by machines that mimic people and animals. These and several other technologies are the precursors of modern robots.  

Playing Catch and Juggling with a Humanoid Robot

Robots in entertainment environments typically do not allow for physical interaction and contact with people. However, catching and throwing back objects is one form of physical engagement that still maintains a safe distance between the robot and participants. Using an animatronic humanoid robot, we developed a test bed for a throwing and catching game scenario. We use an external camera system (ASUS Xtion PRO LIVE) to locate balls and a Kalman filter to predict ball destination and timing. The robot’s hand and joint-space are calibrated to the vision coordinate system using a least-squares technique, such that the hand can be…

Synthesizing Object Receiving Motions of Humanoid Robots with Human Motion Database

This project presents a method for synthesizing motions of a humanoid robot that receives an object from a human, with focus on a natural object passing scenario where the human initiates the passing motion by moving an object toward the robot, which continuously adapts its motion to the observed human motion in realtime. In this scenario, the robot not only has to recognize and adapt to the human action but also has to synthesize its motion quickly so that the human does not have to wait holding an object. We solve these issues by using a human motion database obtained…

PIXELBOTS – Interaction with mobile pixels

Interaction with a swarm of mobile robot pixels. Gesture-based, real-time drawing and with a hand-held tablet.   Collaborative project of Disney Research Zurich and the Autonomous Systems Lab, ETH Zurich.   See “Human – Robot Swarm Interaction for Entertainment: From animation display to gesture based control” – Javier Alonso-Mora, Roland Siegwart and Paul Beardsley, Proc. of the 9th ACM / IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), 2014.   MEDIA NOTES: Disney Research and ETH have created a new kind of display – the pixels are small colorful mobile robots which create cartoon-like images or animations. These are the ‘Pixelbots’….

Printing Teddy Bears: A Technique for 3D Printing of Soft Interactive Objects

This paper considers the design, construction, and example use of a new type of 3D printer which fabricates three-dimensional objects from soft fibers (wool and wool blend yarn). This printer allows the substantial advantages of additive manufacturing techniques (including rapid turn-around prototyping of physical objects and support for high levels of customization and configuration) to be employed with a new class of material.  

Interactive Air-Powered Robot Arm

We have developed a new method for puppeteers to remotely control mechanical characters without the use of motors. The pair of robot arms shown in this video are connected only by flexible pneumatic tubing. There are no pumps, valves, sensors, motors, or electronic controllers used. The passive connection between the two arms is made entirely by air pressure, allowing a large separation between the character and the puppeteer, and tight bends in the air control lines. The key technology is an ultra-low friction pneumatic transmission, enabled by the use of rolling diaphragm seals, instead of traditional sliding o-ring seals. If…


Conceived by Disney Research and working in partnership with a student team at ETH Zürich, the Beachbot is a mobile robot that can turn an ordinary beach into an artist’s canvas. Thanks to innovative balloon wheels, the robot is able to traverse sandy beaches without leaving any noticeable tracks. Drawing is achieved using a controllable rake at the rear of the robot, with individually controllable pins that can be raised and lowered to create thick or thin lines in the sand. The drawing area on the beach is defined simply using four vertical poles that define the corners of the…

A Layered Fabric 3D Printer for Soft Interactive Objects

We present a new type of 3D printer that can form precise, but soft and deformable 3D objects from layers of off-the-shelf fabric. Our printer employs an approach where a sheet of fabric forms each player of a 3D object. The printer cuts this sheet along the 2D contour of the layer using a laser cutter and then bonds it to previously printed layers using a heat sensitive adhesive. Surrounding fabric in each layer is temporarily retained to provide a removable support structure for layers printed above it. This process is repeated to build up a 3D object layer by…

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