From the screen to reality. That seems to be one of Disney’s big goals in recent years. The company’s research and development division has been creating new and better robots that resemble the characters in its cinematic universes. The latest proof of this is a Groot capable of moving naturally and interacting with humans.
Generally, the great shortcoming of robots is a lack of naturalness when it comes to mimicking a human, animal, or whatever form they take. Even the most capable robots such as those from Boston Dynamics have this problem. Disney intends to solve this with its animatronics.
For the last few years, Disney’s R&D division has been working on a project to make animatronics as realistic as possible. Called Project Kiwi has also resulted in the spectacular robot that blinks and makes slight facial movements. Disney also has other experiences in this with the robot that does acrobatics or the collaboration on the most realistic robot dolphin to date.
Now, Disney has decided to share the progress they are making on this, and they do so by showing off their latest creation: a Groot animatronic robot. Starting in 2018, the project’s goal was to create a fully mobile bipedal robot with the exact likeness and size of a certain character.
As we can see in the video, the bipedal robot walks in a “natural” way. Natural in quotation marks because it walks as Groot does in the Disney movies, not exactly like a human. He also smiles and greets humans.
At the moment the robot still has some limitations and tests to overcome. For example, it is connected to a connectivity cable and sometimes to a harness for walking. We also don’t know what interaction and autonomy capabilities it has right now. In the coming months, we may know more about it and other animatronic robots that Disney may develop based on this platform.