The robot, which consists of a human torso wearing a shirt, equipped with an articulated and animated head, was created by engineers from Walt Disney
The robot, which consists of a human torso wearing a shirt, equipped with an articulated and animated head, was created by engineers from Walt Disney Imagineering, in partnership with robotics specialists from the California Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois, in the United States. It has no muscles or skin, but has very real eyes and teeth.
According to the team responsible for the project, the goal was to create an "interaction that demonstrates the illusion of life". For this, they used mechanisms capable of imitating motor behaviors and even the attention of human biological systems.
Using a sensor installed in the pectoral region, the humanoid is able to identify when someone is trying to interact with him, and can respond immediately. In addition, it is also able to pay attention to the environment around it and react to some stimuli, such as a sound from a distance, for example. When noticing something like this, the machine turns its eyes away from the source of the noise, in a very quick way.
See the robot interacting with humans
To "bring the robot to life", Disney engineers programmed the machine to perform subtle movements such as breathing, blinking, head-banging, and rapid eye movement, in addition to other more complex interaction reactions.
The video released by the company describes the development of a system for lifelike gaze in human-robot interactions using a humanoid animatronic bust. It presents a general architecture that seeks not only to create gaze interactions from a technological standpoint, but also through the lens of character animation where the fidelity and believability of motion is paramount; that is to create an interaction which demonstrates the illusion of life.
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Disney is expected to use robots like this, in a less scary version, of course, in its theme parks, for an even more human interaction with visitors. Its use in some of the company's productions is not discarded either.