Design of the Week: Experimental Disney Robot

By on October 16th, 2023 in Design, news

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Experimental 3D printed robot [Source: YouTube / Disney]

This week’s selection is the adorable prototype robot developed by Disney Research.

Disney’s research team in Zurich developed an astonishing 3D printed robot that can walk on two legs in the most realistic manner. The device is intended as an experiment to prove out technologies that the company may use in the future on other projects.

The apparently unnamed robot uses standard components, but has a 3D printed structure.

What’s most interesting about this design is the AI tools Disney researchers used to implement the bipedal walking. They were interested in not only making the device walk, but also in the style of walking.

This is because future Disney projects might involve robots dancing, jumping, prancing or other complex human-like moves.

It seems that the researchers hit their target, if you watch their short video below:

The robot wobbles forward in an adorable manner, but is able to overcome a variety of obstacles in different walking scenarios.

For example, here they literally pull the rug out from under the robot, and it survives magnificently:

Pulling the rug from under the 3D printed robot [Source: YouTube / Disney]

They also tested the robot in an outdoor woodland area, where the robot can be seen competently walking over obstacles that I am sure would cause many readers to tumble.

Experimental 3D printed robot in the woods [Source: YouTube / Disney]

This design shows how important 3D printing can be to experimental design: custom parts can be produced as necessary, and most likely the Disney robot underwent many iterations before it was finalized.

What’s more interesting is that I now wonder where Disney might be headed with this new capability. For example, in the future could they replace the human actors in their amusement parks with robotic equivalents? Would a robot Mickey work well with children? What else could Disney do with this tech?

Via YouTube and IEEE Spectrum

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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