MANILA, Philippines – We've seen robots walk, run, jump, open doors, play table tennis, and develop an immunity against being toppled over. Often, it's both amazing and creepy to see. On one hand, it's mechanical art – hunks of steel and hydraulics mimicking human life. On the other hand, there's always the Terminator scenario: robots perfecting their bipedal existence, unhindered by human "flaws" such as limited cardiovascular ability and emotions, eventually becoming the dominant lifeform on the planet.
If, one day, you find yourself being chased down by a robot swinging from building to building like a metal Spider-Man, you can blame Disney for your ill fortune. Disney's Imagineering Research and Development Lab has developed an acrobat robot able to perform crazy aerial tricks with amazing human-like mastery. (READ: This company is building a massive pack of robot dogs for purchase starting in 2019)
Disney designed the robot for use in stunts, planning to use it in lieu of a human stuntman. The 90-pound robot makes use of a combination of technologies – lasers, accelerometers, gryoscopes, and hydraulics – that collectively, Disney calls "Stuntronics."
The video of the robot started making the rounds online in late June – the most-viewed among which was TechCrunch's YouTube upload, embedded below. The footage later found its second wind in early August via a Facebook upload by CNBC.
While the robots may one day be used for stunts in movies, they will first be used as attractions at Disney parks.
Tony Dohi, Principal R&D Imagineer at Disney, talking to TechCrunch, said that they wanted to recreate in real life, the crazy action scenes one can find in Marvel or Disney movies. The things that their superheros are doing in the movies were "really, really active," Dohi said. "And so that becomes the expectation our park guests have that our characters are doing all these things on screen – but when it comes to our attractions, what are our animatronic figures doing? We realized we have kind of a disconnect here.”
With a little bit of advanced robotic engineering, the guys at Disney are trying to bridge that disconnect. – Rappler.com