Disney's researchers are currently trying to turn #Disney characters into robots.
In the not so distant future, when you visit a Disney #theme park and see the beloved characters walking around and greeting the fans, there may no longer be human actors inside the costumes but autonomous robots. #Animation studios currently rely on #computer-generated images in order to make exciting and realistic characters, with distinct ways of walking that should reflect the character's personality. This personalised walking is also being studied to be later applied to robots.
Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon researchers and engineers have joined up, and have already created a robot that can walk upright on two legs, bringing to life what Disney creatives digitally imagined and designed.
One of the people responsible for this #exciting project is Katsu Yamane, and he explains that they focused primarily on walking, because that is where physics matters the most. When they successfully accomplish the walking part, the same process can be used on the upper part of the body.
This research could quickly become a gold mine to Disney! Merchandising departments. For instance, it could deliver a realistic version of the characters visitors enjoyed seeing on the big screen. Can you imagine how you would interact with Aladdin's monkey or with one of the seven Snow White's dwarfs? Is Grumpy really that grumpy?! I imagine Sleepy to be the easiest to recreate as he is known to be sleeping most of the time...
We are definitely about to enter the #robotic age. The impressive amount of research that takes place worldwide on robotics, and the increasing integration of robots into complex and interactive environments means that the next decades will be very important in understanding how we can all prosper with the help of robots; and if the rise of these thinking machines will (as many fear) exacerbate inequality and unemployment.
Through Disney efforts, children will be accustomed early on to having a robot friend. Isn't that the first step of having a robot assistant when they are grown-ups?