Disney Imagineers who 55 years ago introduced the world to the concept of audio animatronics, in the form of singing birds in the Polynesian-themed Tiki Room at Disneyland, again are looking to the heavens for inspiration in the latest evolution of the technology.
The company unveiled what its calling “Stuntronics figures,” robots who perform aerial maneuvers with precision. The Imagineers’ objective was to create a robot with an acrobat’s timing and reflexes. It’s all part of an effort by Disney to create autonomous characters for its theme parks that appear more flexible and interactive and less, well, robotic and anchored to a diorama, reciting the same lines over and over again.
The result is a 90-pound humanoid figure packed with enough onboard sensors to make decisions in real time, literally on the fly.
“It knows when to tuck its knees to perform a somersault, when to pull its arms to twist and even when to slow down its spin to make sure it sticks that perfect landing,” Disney said in announcing this development.
Stuntronics builds on a research experiment around aerial stunts called Stickman, which produced a stick figure that does backflips. You can check it out here: