Researchers are currently developing a new Disney Animatronic. One that will have subtle head and eye movement. It will give characters such as Kylo Ren and Captain Jack Sparrow more lifelike, human-robot interactions.
The next-gen animatronic was developed by Walt Disney Imagineering’s Advance Development team, Disney Research Innovation Lab, California Institute of Technology, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, according to a new research paper entitled “Realistic and Interactive Robot Gaze.”
Disney has a long history of using animatronics in almost all of their attractions. They are to perform a series of repetitive functions thousands of times a day. The characters range from President Lincoln, to Captain Jack Sparrow; to attractions such as the Haunted Mansion and Rise of the Resistance.
These new animatronics use a chest-mounted sensor to identify people so the robot can turn to face and engage them. The head will rise and fall subtly to simulate breathing. The animatronic can also momentarily shift it’s gaze in reaction to a sudden sound before returning it’s focus to a person. These movements will help to create the illusion of life in the robot.
These next-gen animatronics will not appear in Disney Parks for several years. However, there are new animatronics heading to the parks very soon!
A new Spider-Man stuntronic robot will debut along with the new Avengers Campus at Disney’s California Adventure. It will fly through the air, strike aerial poses and calculate trajectories to hit a certain target.