Oh, weird-faced Disney robot. We’ve already seen you play catch, with your weird flattop metal hairdo, and that ominous grin (do you have teeth?!). But now — now! — we see your true purpose.
To grab our handbags. Very slowly. Or, well, to raise your hand up and wait for the bag to be placed gently into it. These things take time.
As you can see, last month Disney Research released the above video showcasing their humanoid robot engaging in a “natural object passing scenario.” Or, as us non-robots would call it, grabbing a bag from some guy.
The action may sound simple, but consider the complexities inherent in such a maneuver: the robot must not only “see” the object being passed, but also anticipate where it will be passed and quickly react accordingly to the motions of the human passing it.
This is something humans do without a second thought, but it’s actually a very complex process. Disney researchers used motion capture to build a “human motion database,” allowing the robot’s actions to appear as natural as possible.
They also performed some experiments in which they teased the robot, only pretending to hand it the bag before pulling it away. I’m sure the robots will remember that.