Disney Seeks Patents for Free-roaming Soft Bodied Robots
Ron Perillo / 2 years ago
Taking design cues directly from their own 2014 3D animated action movie Big Hero 6, Disney has applied for patents that involve free-roaming soft bodied robots similar to Baymax. Apparently, Disney has been working on developing such a robot in their Disney Research Labs in Pittsburgh for some time now ever since the movie came out. While this is not the first time Disney has used free-roaming robots in their park, having Lucky the Dinosaur walking around and Push the Talking Trashcan rolling in place, the latest patent aims to have robots that can fully interact safely with humans and directly hug children.
Safety is naturally the primary concern and as the patent application describes: “It has proven difficult to provide wholly safe interactions between humans and robots simply by operating these humanoid and other robots with controlled movements.”
The soft-bodied robots will consist of pliable chambers either filled with fluid or air and will be able to sense pressure on each chamber and adjust the amount of fluid or air required depending on the collision detected, whether it hugs a child or it bumps into something. The patent is decidedly ambiguous in its description of the final form, stating it will be “data obtained from a digital model of an animated (or other) character” so as to give Disney options with various designs that they can draw from their various properties.
The addition of free-roaming robots to the park is also aimed at lowering the labor cost as well as lowering the number of human employees playing costumed characters and the liabilities that it represents. For example, a lawsuit was filed in 2011 by a Philadelphia woman claiming that an employee dressed as Donald Duck groped her while an employee in a Tigger the Tiger costume, allegedly punched a 14-year old boy from New Hampshire.