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Disney Built A Realistic Baby Groot Robot That Can Move & Wander Around Freely
By Mikelle Leow, 26 Apr 2021
Video screenshot via Walt Disney Imagineering
Baby Groot has walked out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe into this world—with his own two feet.
Since 2018, the Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development team has been working on a “free-roaming robotic actor” technology that might one day join theme parks to walk among guests. This week, the department shared the result of its first complete robot, which now bears the skin of a young Groot.
Like a modern-day Pinocchio, the Groot robot—standing at about only two and a half feet—can walk, gesture, and emote. Disney explains it possesses “50 degrees of freedom” and can behave according to portrayals in films.
Disney demonstrated the bot in a new video, which is a little creepy at first, as the prototype starts out without a head or skin.
As of now, the Disney research team has no plans to roll out the lifelike technology into parks, which might be a sigh of relief for those terrified by Disney’s attempt at Uncanny Valley. It currently serves as an experiment for future characters of similar sizes; after all, a six-foot tall man in a Piglet costume doesn’t exactly paint an accurate picture of the animations.
Expanding on this concept, Disney says the robot will be able to respond with whole-body motions and act in line with “traditional character animation” apart from Groot’s mannerisms.
[via Mashable and TechCrunch, video and cover image via Walt Disney Imagineering]
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