In an attempt to make its theme parks even more magical, Disney's Research division is working to develop bi-pedal robots and animatronic characters that walk and move like the lively cartoon characters in its animated films and TV shows.
Starting with a 3D animated model that walks with the same exaggerated gait and motion as a cartoon character, the researchers 3D printed the robot's leg components to match the structure of the virtual character.
Standard servos were then used to bring the legs to life, but angled and positioned to help recreate the 3D character's movements. And finally, using that same animation software, the researchers were able to generate a walk cycle their bi-pedal robot was able to reproduce without falling over.
Thanks to recent advancements in robotics, Disney's theme parks have started to introduce animatronic characters that aren't permanently stuck on a stage like everyone in the famous Hall of Presidents.
A few years ago, Lucky, a self-powered walking dinosaur, started making appearances at Disneyland and Walk Disney World. And eventually this new research could lead to robotic versions of popular characters from Disney's animated films showing up in its parks too. Sorry, Mickey, kids really just don't know who you are anymore. [Disney Research]