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10 Apr, 2017 18:25

Disney goes Westworld? Media giant plans 3D printed, soft robots for ‘human interaction’ (IMAGES)

Disney goes Westworld? Media giant plans 3D printed, soft robots for ‘human interaction’ (IMAGES)

Disney Enterprises Inc. has filed a US patent for a 3D printed, interactive, soft robot, sparking speculation that humanoids could soon be running the show at the company’s world famous theme parks.

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The patent for a “soft body robot for human interaction” details that the humanoid joints would be created by a 3D printer and operated by a robot controller.

The robotic character is designed to reduce collision impacts during human interaction, according to the application.


While the patent proposal doesn’t state the purpose of these ‘cuddly’ bots, it does suggest they’ll provide “interactive guidance or entertainment in stores and amusement parks,” and acknowledges the need for them to “safely interact with humans and, particularly, with children.”

It also confirms that Disney robots "may be based on an animated character."

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Disney has already developed a small toy-sized prototype to test its design: “To physically interact with children, the inventors understood that the robot should be soft and durable. With this in mind, a robot physical and control design was created by the inventors with soft and deformable body parts.”

The sketches released are remarkably similar to the Baymax robot from the Disney film Big Hero 6, but the company has not confirmed on which characters, if any, the robots would be based.

Disney’s amusement parks are filled with larger-than-life-sized versions of popular characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, played by human actors.

The company has a dedicated robotics research department that is working on a number of projects aimed at creating a “future in which robots interact with humans in complex, unpredictable environments.”

While the company insists its first priority is safety, the possibility of robots roaming around a theme park is sure to herald visions of an apocalyptic future for anyone who’s seen the recently released science fiction series ‘Westworld’.