Rollin' Justin Robot Catches Thrown Ball

Rollin' Justin is a humanoid robot with sophisticated control algorithms and dexterous manipulations able to catch thrown baseballs, among other skills. Rollin' Justin was developed at the Institute of Robotics and Mechantronics at the German Aerospace Center (DLR).


(Rollin' Justin robot [pdf])

Justin’s mobile platform possesses the ability to vary its footprint over time by extending/retracting the wheel legs during motion. Therefore, we designed a control algorithm aimed at tracking an arbitrary linear/angular planar motion while, at the same time, imposing a decoupled and independent motion to each leg.

The upper body mounted on the mobile platform with a total of 51 DoF represents a highly complex kinematic structure.

The video shows Justin’s capabilities to track (and grasp) freely moving objects in 6 degrees of freedom (DoF) with its hand and its head. These capabilities allow for the immediate reaction to changes in the environment and eventually for the interaction with a human. A fundamental challenge of the task consists in extending the universality of objects covered by the pose estimation algorithm while containing the (respective) requirements on the computational resources.

This problem is approached here by estimating the object pose not at once in all 6-DoF but consecutively in a cascade of localization stages for increasing degrees of freedom with appropriate object models and exploration strategies.


(Rollin Justin catches a thrown baseball)

I'm still looking for a good science-fictional reference for a robot that catches thrown balls; readers? In the meantime, enjoy the robots that can catch (and play) football from a 1962 episode of The Jetsons.

From Rollin’ Justin - Mobile Platform with Variable Base (pdf) via NPR. Special thanks to an anonymous reader for writing in with the tip; I depend on you readers!

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