It's a bird...it's a plane...it's a robot!
A video has been making rounds on the Internet showing a new Disney animatronic (for the uninitiated, that's the talking, moving, character robots featured on Disney Parks attractions) doing flips scores of feet in the air before landing on a tiny pad. Yes, the video is real, and it's part of a new project going on at Disney Imagineering called Stuntronics. Here's the clip in case you haven't seen it:
You saw it strike a little superhero pose there at the end...pretty cool, right? Even with robots that can open doors nowadays, this is quite an impressive feat. So, how does it work?
This Stuntronics animatronic actually features the third iteration of a device that allows the robot to do what it does. In essence, this robot boasts a series of accelerometers and gyros to track the robot's spins in the air. Using these sensors and a laser rangefinder, the animatronic can shift its center of mass to hit that pad consistently.
It's certainly a marvel, but why is Disney even spending time and money on this project? According to TechCrunch, R&D Imagineer Tony Dohi explained that "what this is about is the realization we came to after seeing where our characters are going on screen, whether they be Star Wars characters, or Pixar characters, or Marvel characters or our own animation characters, is that they’re doing all these things that are really, really active. And so that becomes the expectation our park guests have that our characters are doing all these things on screen — but when it comes to our attractions, what are our animatronic figures doing? We realized we have kind of a disconnect here.”
It's all part of Disney's effort to make their animatronics more realistic and escape that "uncanny valley," the idea that robots almost like humans in appearance cause viewers to be uncomfortable.
For myself, I'm cool with a robotic Iron Man flying through the sky at my next Disney Park visit.
Wait...I'm starting to get an Ultron vibe...
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I'm a sci-fi/fantasy lover & writer who especially likes talking about Star Wars and futuristic tech. I like finding new things & finding the beauty in old things, especially in my "Everyday Snippets" series. I hope you'll join me on my blog and unleash your imagination!