Most movies depict robots like evil things, bound on destroying everything. However, in the real world, they usually have a friendlier design and purpose. One such example is the Taiwanese ball throwing robotic seal.
The robot has been designed by scientists from the National Chiao-Tung University, and it made one of its first public appearances at the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, in October 2010. The seal design does not improve the functionality of the robot in any way, and it acts only as a camouflage for the basketball throwing manipulator arm.
Technological Details and Efficiency
The goal of the robot is obviously to convert hoops, but as the target is not static, there is a lot of technology involved. The location of the hoop needs to be determined in 3D, and for this the robot employs a stereo vision system. Once this location is known, the speed and the angle of the throw must be calculated through an algorithm. Additional calibration may be necessary, but once this is done, the robot has an efficiency of 99 percent.
The Future of the Robot Seal
Currently the robot seal experiment has some limitations. First of all, the robot is much smaller than a real seal and the basketball that it throws is also miniaturized. Next, there is also a limitation in what concerns the maximum covered distance. At the moment, the robot seal misses the target if the hoop is placed at more than 3 meters away. However, the results of the current experiment could represent the premise for other projects at a larger scale. Now that the necessary systems for perming such a task are known, scientists could start building robotic arms of greater dimensions that are able to handle or throw objects at greater distances. There is still no sign of an apocalyptic plot, as such robots are highly improbable to become self-conscious outside the movie sets.