Disney Research has created a new animatronic that may one day play Centerfield for the New York Yankees.  The new animatronics use visual depth aware motion camera to calculate object movement to tell where to position its robot hand to catch the ball and in return toss it back to you.

Using Microsoft Kinect-like technology paired with fancy math, the Animatronic processes movements as humans would, without all that hydraulic fluid and annoying but catchy Sherman Brothers penned theme music.

These animatronics have a bit of a learning curve and when watching the “Drop Ball Test” the Animatronics comically look shamefully down at the poorly thrown ball. I dont know if it will tell you that you throw the ball like a little girl but who knows what the team at Disney Research will bring us. One can only hope.

Having seen some of these Animatronics behind the scenes first hand, I can tell you the Imagineers are always figuring out how to make these machines work more fluidly, with smaller components and less failure rates.  These machines will probably find their way into Disney Theme Park attraction queues.  If you’ve made a trip to Walt Disney World recently you may have seen new elements (especially the new Dumbo, Soarin’ and Haunted Mansion) that are supposed to make the painful crawl of queueing less boring.

Plus you should always be nice to the robots, especially when they become our overlords.

[gizmodo via PopSci]