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Disney Unveils Next-Gen Robot and New ‘Blue-Sky’ Technologies at SXSW


“If you can dream it, you can do it”, and Disney certainly did it when they unveiled their next-gen robot and new ‘Blue-Sky’ technologies at the SXSW in Austin, Texas.

During the presentation of Josh D’Amaro, Disney Parks’ Experiences and Products Chairman, a robot with the head of a bunny and a child-size frame hopped outside of a box. To make things more impressive, this robot bunny did a summersault and roller skated on stage while D’Amaro continues with his presentation on “Creating Happiness: The Art & Science of Disney Parks Storytelling”.

As the next-gen bunny robot wobbles, glides, tumbles, and even sits on Disney Imagineer Morgan Pope’s shoulder, one cannot help but think how advanced robots are getting and can be a part of an emotional experience. “This is our latest effort in making robots that we think can have an emotional connection with our guests,” Tony Dohi said.

“We are using high-performance materials and taking advantage of mechanical scaling effects, so she’s dynamic and touch. But we’re also using motion-capture data because we want to make performances that have emotion embedded in them.”, adds Dohi.

Disney Unveils Their Next-Gen Robot and New 'Blue-Sky' Technologies to Greet Parkgoers at SXSW

While there is no definite date on when parkgoers can be greeted by the next-gen bunny robot, Disney has already started testing out their new “Blue-Sky” technologies for character greetings. D’Amaro did a demo of their technology used with a tiny Tinker Bell inside a lantern. Most entertainingly, Tinker Bell was able to respond in real-time to the questions D’Amaro would throw at her such as if she ever gets jealous of Peter Pan and why she always wears green.

Aside from Tinker Bell, Hulk also appeared during the presentation. Both interactions though were aided by a live performer, so there were limitations to the “magic”.

Nonetheless, these new unveiling of Disney certainly upholds the strong storied history of the company when it comes to robotics. Starting from the Tiki birds in 1963 to the countless robots we now see in Disney amusement parks worldwide, it’s no question how robots and their technology can put a smile on our faces even beyond the traditional workplaces.

Linda Takahashi

American-born New Yorker Linda Johnson has been fascinated with robotic machines since she was a teenager, when her father, a surgeon, would introduce to her the machines that he used to perform keyhole surgeries. This interest led her to pursue a tech degree at the University of Washington, where she met Sota Takahashi. They married and now have two children. Linda’s father developed dementia later on and was given a robot pet as a companion. She saw how much having a robot pet friend helped her father, which is what led her to create this website and advocate to spread word about robot pets and how they can help both children and the elderly.

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