Disney’s flying robot stunt double can pose just like a superhero and is being developed for shows at Disney Themeparks. The robots are more like acrobats; they can flip through the air and stick a landing every time.
You may not have thought that Disney would be making advances in the field of robotics, but they have created these lifelike, usually static robots, to entertain crowds at Disney theme parks and resorts. This new breed of animatronics is pushing the limits of robotic engineering, building humanoid robots designed to take part in aerial stunts.
Through the use of laser guiding and built-in accelerometers and gyroscopes, these robots adjust their position in mid-air, perfecting that superhero flight pose. Disney is yet to say exactly where in their theme parks these robots will end up, but you could easily imagine them in costume flying across a stage as a stand in for their human counterpart.
Stuntronics seem to be filling a gap in the repertoire of standard animatronics; they can really convince you that it’s a being of action and dynamism. Quite often robots have a lot of function, yet don’t look quite right when in motion (they are in the “uncanny valley”), but here the opposite is true. Whilst speaking to TechCrunch, Morgan Pope, an Associate Research Scientist at Disney, said that “when a robot is flying through the air physics gives a really neat opportunity that means you can have just a little bit of function to produce a lot of stuff that looks really good.”
Maybe Disney is on its way to helping robots leap across the uncanny valley.