In an effort to make how robots move and interact with humans feel less awkward and uncomfortable, Disney Research, working with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, are developing a more natural approach to the problem by thoroughly studying how humans interact.

In fact, using motion capture suits, the study was taken one step further. The goal of this particular research was to improve how a robot gives, or takes something from a human. So the researchers recorded two humans going through the motions of passing an object between them, and this was then compiled into a database that a robot can use to recognize when it's being given something, and automatically reach out to receive it without delay.

There's still quite a bit of finessing needed to make the actual handoff seem far more lifelike, but in addition to making the animatronic inhabitants at the Disney parks a little less creepy, the research promises to improve how our future robot maids and butlers interact with us. [Disney Research via Gizmag]