Science & Tech

Disney unveils robot that triggers 'instant emotional connection'

Disney unveils robot that triggers 'instant emotional connection'
Storytelling Through Characters at Disney Parks I SXSW 2023

A robot that will "bring out a characters’ personality" was unveiled at during Disney Parks' appearance at South by Southwest (SXSW).

During the presentation called "The Art & Science Behind Disney’s Timeless Storytelling," the robotic bunny climbed out of a box and onto the stage (doing a neat forward roll in the process).

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro and Walt Disney Imagineers Tony Dohi, Tony Dibani and Morgan Pope spoke about the technology that the company has been developing that can have "an emotional connection” with park guests.

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On stage, the robot bunny showed off different skills such as rollerblading, somersaulting as well as falling down and getting back up which are said to be a "new way to bring out a characters’ personality."

“Robotics is all about precision, repeatability…and inhuman perfection,” Pope said.

“We are using high-performance materials, and taking advantage of mechanical scaling effects — so she’s dynamic and tough,” Pope said.

“But we’re also using motion capture data because we want to make performances that have emotion embedded in them.”

Dohi and Pope who are behind the Spider-Man robot that performs backflips in Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure noted the purpose of utilising this creation.

"Can we make an audience actually feel anxious for our little robot here if we ask her to premiere her big stunt in front of this huge… crowd?” Diho explained.

On Linkedin, Martin Harbech who is Group Director at Meta shared a clip of the robotic bunny in action.

"If you don’t believe humans will one day have robot companions, this 90-sec clip is really worth watching," he wrote in a post.

"Pay special attention to the instant emotional reaction from the audience at 01:06… after just a minute with ‘her.'"

At the moment the robot is nameless but it has had comparisons it to rabbit Judy Hopps, from Disney’s Oscar-winning 2016 animated movie, Zootopia (known as Zootropolis in the UK).

Disney did not confirm whether park guests will see this robot at their parks in the future but they did also show off other creations they've been working on.

One of those being another "blue-sky" meet-and-greet concept where fans have a live conversation with pixie-sized Tinker Bell and during the demonstration answered questions while she appeared in a lantern.

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