Disney's New Robot Is Skinless — And It Blinks

The Walt Disney Company DIS has developed a robot that can mimic the “illusion of life” by making human-like eye movements — although the eerie animatronic figure is yet to acquire a skin.

What Happened: The humanoid robot torso, dressed in a shirt, is capable of mimicking facial movements, including breathing, blinking, and making head movements.

Disney showcased what can only be described as a slightly unsettling to downright blood-curdling automaton in a video claiming, “our architecture implements mutual gazing behavior demonstrating the illusion of life.”

“As off-the-shelf robotic sensing and actuation capabilities improve, there are increased opportunities for animatronic platforms to create more entertainment and engagement,” the team behind the robot said in a paper titled, “Realistic and Interactive Robot Gaze.”

The engineers at Disney say that gaze is a “significant tool for an interactive robot character” and the aim in the development of this robot is “to develop a system to emulate human-like mutual gaze.”

Why It Matters: The core purpose of such animatronic figures is to deliver a show, just like human actors, according to the Disney paper.

The company may end up using the technology at its theme parks and its research division has been working on more lifelike robots since 2018, The Verge reported

Meanwhile, SoftBank Group Corp SFTBY and Bear Robotics said in September they are working together to bring a new robot named Servi to foodservice and hospitality fields.

SoftBank claims its Pepper robot was the first humanoid robot able to recognize faces and basic human emotions. 

The Japanese firm says over 2000 companies around the world use Pepper to welcome and guide customers.

Price Action: Disney shares closed nearly 0.2% lower at $121.25 on Friday and gained 0.16% in the after-hours session.

 Photo courtesy: Disney Research

Posted In: artificial intelligenceDisney Theme ParkshumanoidsrobotsNewsEventsTech

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