Disney’s latest robot will bring Groot and other characters to life

Move to Spot, there’s a cute new robot in town, and this one might one day convince you, or more likely your child, that their favorite Disney character is real. In a long new room, TechCrunch detailed Project Kiwi, a developing robotics platform of the company Imagineering research and development studio. The result of more than three years of work now, she is a little robot who can move and act on her own and take the form of many different characters – including, as you can see, Baby Groot.

With Project Kiki, Imagineering set out to create a robotic actor who could one day interact with Disney theme park guests and make them feel like they’re face to face with their favorite characters. When the team started working on the project, there weren’t any robots up to the task, so they started creating their own. The majority of Project Kiwi components are custom made and include smart design features. For example, it has a hollow skeleton that allows circulating air to cool its motors and actuators.

While the robot looks like a breakthrough in many ways, don’t expect to see it at a Disney park anytime soon. Imagineering says TechCrunch he still has a lot of work to do before Project Kiwi leaves the lab. One of the upcoming areas of interest is a new set of actuators that will make the robot better equipped for manage sudden interactions, like a child running to hug him, that could overthrow it. The team is also working on a new suite of sensors that will allow Kiwi to better understand the world and identify human faces. Battery life is another area where the robot could do better. The current model can last about 45 minutes on a single charge. All of this to say that you can safely wait to plan your next trip to Disney World.

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