This article was published on May 26, 2015

Disney is working on bringing its animated characters to life – as robots

Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

In 2008, Disney unleashed an animatronic Dinosaur – named Lucky – on to the streets of Disney California Adventure Park at Disneyland. Lucky was such a huge success with park goers that he started to tour other parks, such as Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, and even The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles in an effort to test both the feasibility and the feedback of such a character.

The success of Lucky – as well as the animatronic singing and dancing characters in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction – has captured the attention of the Disney Research team and now they’re attempting to improve upon the technology in order to develop and deploy additional robotic characters in the form of some of your favorite characters.

The team starts with a 3D animation of the model that uses the same exaggerated walking motion as one of its characters and then used 3D printing in order to create components that match the virtual model. After the introduction of servo motors, the legs are positioned in a way to hep recreate the model’s movements. After significant trial and error, these characters then move in the same exaggerated motion as the animated characters.

Once scaled, these same simple models could provide the framework for additional animatronic Disney characters to delight a new generation of fans that grew up with the likes of Wall-E (Wall-E), Lightning McQueen (Cars) and Baymax (Big Hero 6), as opposed to classic characters such as Mickey, Donald Duck and Goofy.

Development of a Bipedal Robot that Walks Like an Animation Character [Disney]

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