It’s no secret that Disney Imagineers are pretty skilled at making some crazy bots.
As the years go by, more and more animatronics are popping up in Disney parks that make us question if they just might be real people. Seriously, Hondo Ohnaka on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run looks like a guy in some really good FX makeup! Now, Disney has come up with TWO more wild bots; take a look!
Disney recently filed a patent for a “Legged High-dexterity Self-balancing Capable Robot Actor.” Basically, this tech is a robot that’s capable of standing on its own and moving in a similar fashion to a human without any help from support structures.
An animator could program the movements of the robot, just like they would an animated character for a movie, and the robot will be able to reproduce those movements in a way that looks fluid and realistic. The patent even notes this could be done with non-humanoid creatures like this rabbit silhouette.
Hmm…does that look like Zootopia‘s Judy Hopps to anyone else? We know that a Zootopia-themed land is underway in Shanghai Disneyland AND Zootopia characters are included in much of the concept art for EPCOT’s Play Pavilion. It would be VERY cool if we could see a walking, talking robot Judy (or any other character really!).
The use of the word “actor” is pretty indicative of how we might see tech like this used. The patent notes that “The robot actor enables the often screen-constrained characters to become life-like, interactive participants with nearby people in ways not presently achievable… The robot can provide characters with an illusion of life and, in many cases, in correct proportion and scale.” So, shows and potentially meet and greets could include an actual size Judy Hopps or anyone else!
And our friend the legged robot isn’t the ONLY super cool robotics tech that Disney has crafted lately. Disney Research previewed their new “RobotSculptor” which allows for “artist-directed robotic sculpting of clay.”
This bot is certainly an ARTIST. It can follow along with virtual renderings from human artists to sculpt moldable clay into an exact form. One example? This very defined face! This is the kind of thing that Disney could use to sculpt models for animated films and CG effects going forward!
There really is no stopping Disney on the robotics front! Every few months we check in to find something positively mind-blowing. If you want to make sure you’re in the loop for all the upcoming Disney tech, stay tuned to DFB!
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What do you think of these new inventions? Tell us in the comments!