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Disney Imagineers Develop Free-Walking Animatronic

Credit: Unsplash

Disney has a rich history of incorporating animatronics in their theme parks. These static figures have been a staple in Disney attractions for years, with iconic examples like the “It’s a Small World” ride. But what if these animatronics could break free from their fixed positions and walk around the park independently? This isn’t the script of a horror film; it’s cutting-edge technology.

Disney’s Imagineers have been working on a revolutionary animatronic project known as “Project Kiwi.” The objective of Project Kiwi is to create animatronics that can freely roam theme parks, engaging and entertaining guests along the way. Recently, a demonstration of the Project Kiwi animatronic was showcased, featuring the beloved character Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

“Project KIWI started about three years ago to figure out how we can bring our smaller characters to life at their actual scale in authentic ways,” explained R&D Imagineer Scott LaValley. “It’s an exciting time for bipedal robotics and with an incredible team and our combination of technology, artistry, and magic, we are bringing characters to life that could not have happened anywhere but Disney.”

The Groot animatronic boasts fully articulated arms, legs, and facial features like eyes and mouth. Although it was tethered for safety during the demonstration, the device is designed to walk independently, powered by an internal 45-minute battery.

While the technology is still in its early stages, Imagineers envision creating walking animatronics inspired by various characters once perfected. If approved for Disney parks, initial plans may involve limited stage shows before allowing the animatronics to freely roam the park to engage with guests. Imagine the joy of hugging a tiny Groot robot!

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