Disney is perhaps not as well known for its efforts in robotics as Boston Dynamics since they mainly apply solely for entertainment purposes, and their latest one to come up on stage is a cute skater robot. It was showcased at SXSW 2023 during The ‘Art & Science’ of Storytelling presentation by Disney parks chairman Josh D’Amaro along with Imagineers Morgan Pope and Tony Dohi.
The trio talked about Disney’s efforts on building dynamic robots that can perform a variety of tasks. It could range from getting hurled up 65 feet in the air while doing a somersault to getting dropped from the same height without a safety net.
The robot that looks like Judy Hopps wearing roller skates and a helmet made The Ring-style, but not-so-scary entry, on the stage. It crawled out of a wooden box when Pope was trying to explain that “robotics is all about precision, repeatability, and inhuman perfection.” One of the party tricks up its sleeve is the robot can stand up on its own after taking a fall on the ground.
“This is our latest effort in making robots that we think can have an emotional connection with our guests,” Pope told the audience. Disney is using high-performance materials and leveraging mechanical scaling effects to make the robot more dynamic and tough. But they are also utilizing motion capture data so the robot can deliver “performances that have emotion embedded in them.”
All of these factors are important in building the robot’s overall personality. A Zootopia–themed land is expected to open at Shanghai Disneyland in 2023. However, there is no word as of now whether this cute skater robot would be present there to cheer up the kids.