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While at Disney Research I was the head mechanical engineer on a project to redesign an older Disney audio animatronic figure to play catch and juggle with human players.
One of my responsibilities was to create new mechanical hands for the robot, since the original hands were delicate and not suited for catching. I designed the new hands to be functional with a protective outer shell but still resemble human hands and be aesthetically pleasing.
To improve the robot's catching ability I built a "glove" that could be mounted to the palm of the hand. The glove was made of memory foam with a thin covering of neoprene to help absorb the impact of the ball. The glove is designed to be removable, since the hand has to be versatile enough to be used for other research projects.
As the project moves into the next phase, my responsibilities include keeping the robot in good repair and solving any mechanical or hydraulic problems that arise.
I created a detailed CAD model of the hand to evaluate its dynamics, range of motion, and compatibility with the original robotic figure. When the design met all of the project requirements I directed the manufacture of the parts and assembled the final hand.
I also worked with the body of the robotic figure so that it could play catch with guests. Among other alterations, I modified the figure's joints so its arms were aligned for effective catching and throwing.
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