Disney Executives, Who Have Apparently Never Seen ‘Westworld,’ Want Robotic Characters To Roam Their Theme Parks

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In an either an exciting or extremely jarring new development, depending on how dystopian your views are, Disney is reportedly hard at work creating essentially sentient versions of its animatronic robots. Think a walking Groot that not only comes out to greet you, but interacts with you and reacts accordingly if you’re not paying attention to it. And if that sounds like something straight out of an episode of Westworld, New York Times writer Brook Barnes saw the three-foot tall robotic Groot with his own eyes.

In a new profile that required security clearance and secret meetings in abandoned warehouses, Barnes broke down Disney’s ambitious plans to evolve its animatronic offerings, which already took a massive leap forward with its Stuntronic Spider-Man that was recently revealed at Disney’s Avengers Campus attraction. The massive multi-million dollar expenditure is all in the name of captivating today’s tech-savvy kids. Via NYT:

Disney attractions have always required the suspension of disbelief: Those are real flying galleons in Peter Pan’s Flight, not plastic ride vehicles on a rail. But advances in movie imagery — computer-generated animation, the blending of live-action footage with elaborate digital effects — have put pressure on Disney to make its robots more convincing.

“You know how Elsa moves,” said Kathryn Yancey, an Imagineering show mechanical engineer, referring to the “Frozen” princess. “Kids have watched the movie over and over, maybe even in the car that morning. So our animatronic Elsa also has to be fast and lyrical. She can’t be lumbering.”

However, Disney currently has no plans of replacing its cast members who play live-action versions of Cinderella, Princess Jasmine, etc. The new push in robotics will focus on more “extreme” characters from Marvel and Star Wars, like the Hulk, because that’s what we definitely need a sentient robot of. Should be great.

(Via The New York Times)