Disney is Planning Big Things with Robots
Disney has filed patent applications in an attempt to get a jump on their competitors in the entertainment world. This time, Disney is trying to develop robots that can entertain visitors at Walt Disney World and other resorts around the world. It’s a logical next step for a company that pioneered animatronic attractions with pre-programmed figures designed to entertain customers.
According to CNN, the patent application indicates that Disney is trying to make “soft” and “durable” robots for interaction with children. The application also indicates that Disney has created a mini prototype with 3d printing and other technologies. Disney declined to comment on the patent, but fans have already begun to speculate that Disney is trying to create robots that as a novel addition to the park, instead of a replacement for human costumed actors. After all, no artificial intelligence can recreate an actress pretending to be Belle, Ariel or Jasmine. Though robots don’t require drink or bathroom breaks, the logistical difficulties with developing them and keeping them running makes them an unlikely candidate for replacing humans in a part where realism and reliability matter.
With the popularity of movies like Wall-E and Lilo and Stitch, Disney could be trying to branch out into creating less-human but still-lovable characters. Plus, introducing kids to the magic of robots at a young age can spark an interest in engineering. Since America lags behind other industrialized countries in its STEM education programs, it makes sense for Disney to try to revitalize interest in science.
Since Disney wouldn’t comment on the patent, it’s too early to say when and where the robots may show up. However, a logical debut location would be Epcot, where Disney’s science-themed attractions take center stage. If the robots prove successful, it’s only a matter of time before they appear at Disney theme parks around the world.