Disney Research shows off a robot character with fast handovers

Shane McGlaun - Nov 8, 2019, 8:31 am CST
Disney Research shows off a robot character with fast handovers

When two people are talking, and one wants to hand the other something, the handover process is done quickly and fluidly. The same can’t be said for handovers that are done with most robots. Disney Research has a new system that it says generates a fast and robust handover with a robot character.

Disney says that the new robotic system it has developed can match and exceed human speeds and confirms that the user prefers human-level timing. The system that Disney Research has deigned has the appearance of a robot character. The test setup has a bear-like head and a soft anthropomorphic hand.

The robot uses Bezier curves for smooth and minimum-jerk motions. Fast timing is enabled thanks to low latency motion capture and real-time trajectory generation. The system allows the robot to move towards the expected handover location and trajectory s updated on-the-fly to converge smoothly to the actual handover location.

Disney Research says that a hybrid automaton provides robustness to failure and unexpected human actions. Disney performed a 3×3 user study where the speed of the robot and added variable sensorimotor delays. The team also evaluated the social perception of a robot using the Robot Social Attribute Scale (RoSAS).

That study found that the inclusion of a small delay that mimics the delay of the human sensorimotor system leads to an improvement in perceived qualities over no delay and long delay conditions. The team says that humans perceive no delay time as more discomforting, and with a long delay, the robot is perceived as less warm. While Disney Research offers no indication of what these robots might be used for, we can imagine them all around its theme park greeting guests rather than humans in costumes.

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