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.  

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.  

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’….

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…

Interactive Design of 3D Printable Robotic Creatures

We present an interactive design system that allows casual users to quickly create 3D-printable robotic creatures. Our approach automates the tedious parts of the design process while providing sample room for customization of morphology, proportions, gait and motion style. The technical core of our framework is an efficient optimization-based solution that generates stable motions for legged robots of arbitrary designs. An intuitive set of editing tools allows the user to interactively explore the space of feasible designs and to study the relationship between morphological features and the resulting motions. Fabrication blueprints are generated automatically such that the robot designs can…

VertiGo – A Wall-Climbing Robot Including Ground-Wall Transition

VertiGo is a wall-climbing robot that is capable of transitioning from the ground to the wall, created in collaboration between Disney Research Zurich and ETH. The robot has two tiltable propellers that provide thrust onto the wall, and four wheels. One pair of wheels is steerable, and each propeller has two degrees of freedom for adjusting the direction of thrust. By transitioning from the ground to a wall and back again, VertiGo extends the ability of robots to travel through urban and indoor environments.   The robot is able to move on a wall quickly and with agility. The use…

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