Some day in the near future, Disney’s theme parks could put out the “cease all motor functions” command to shut down its army of robots for the night. And while we’re a long way from Westworld, Disney really is looking ahead at some advanced robotics to join the cast members of Disneyland and Disney World.
Via io9, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Disney has filed patents for “soft-body robots” that may play animated and humanoid characters while interacting with guests at the Disney theme parks. This is not entirely new ground for Disney, as the parks have used animatronic characters for decades. However, the patent filings suggest that these new robots will actually physically interact with the guests in a way that no previous robot could match. And the early design from Disney’s patent office filing looks somewhat familiar.
Is that you, Baymax?
Big Hero 6‘s huggable robot is actually a pretty inspired choice for Disney’s first soft humanoid robot, if the parks really are moving in that direction. But this technology could also change the way that fans interact with Disney characters in the park itself. Since the beginning of Disneyland, cast members have worn costumes to represent Disney’s iconic characters. What if these soft robots could be made to look like the animated versions of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and the rest of the legendary lineup? That would offer an even greater immersion into Disney’s fantasy realms than ever before.
It should be noted that these robots don’t appear to be designed for artificial intelligence, which hopefully means we can avoid a Westworld-style bloodbath when the machines inevitably rise against humanity. If anything, they’re more like puppets, since the patents suggest that they will be controlled by Disney cast members. This technology isn’t ready to be immediately implemented, as Disney is likely to vigorously test it before unleashing the new robots in the parks. But within a few years, who can say? We may really have robots walking around in Disneyland. And we think that’s pretty cool!
Are you excited about the possibilities of Disney’s soft body robots? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Images: HBO, Disney
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