Disney parks have always given fans a chance to see their favorite characters come to life, but the real-life versions lack the movement and agility of their movie counterparts. The happiest place on Earth will be changing the game of animatronics as we know it to include mind-blowing stunt robots.
The creative team that dreams up and designs park attractions, Disney Imagineers, developed the “Stuntronics” project to bring the same energy and action from Disney movies into the real world. Disney characters on screen jump, roll, soar, and fly with ease, but the Imagineers knew that same magic wasn’t transitioning to the static animatronic robots that currently reside in the park.
Creating such a groundbreaking technology is no easy task. These robots need to be reliable and able to run long hours each day for several years. The project manifested from an earlier robotic experiment dubbed “Stickman,” that could perform basic acrobatic maneuvers. “Stickman” slowly developed into a full size robot with the ability to perform gravity-defying stunts while posing as your favorite heroes.
This new technology uses laser guiding, accelerometers, and gyroscopes that give the stunt robots enough sensors to make decisions in real time. Having the ability to correct movements in midair will allow them to know when to slow down a spin to stick a landing or tuck their knees to complete a somersault. Soon, the static, predetermined movements of animatronics will be gone and replaced by the diverse and ever-changing performances of Stuntronics robots.
The robot is essentially a 90-pound humanoid that can be clothed in the costumes of Disney characters. Your favorite heroes can now fly through the air and perform mind-boggling stunts in the realistic manner of a human. Instead of limited animatronic movement, Tarzan can now swing from vine to vine, Stormtroopers can run and jump through space, and Starlord can fight the universe in action-packed stunt sequences.
Disney has been taking strides to make the park more realistic for guests. They recently added the Na-vi shaman to their Avatar theme park, whose realistic movements excited park-goers and left them wanting more. Disney plans to open Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in late 2019 and is also constructing a Marvel-based land that’s set to open in 2020. It’s a safe bet to say that the new stunt robots will be making an appearance in these two parks. The abilities of the Stuntronics robots are perfect for the heroic characters of Marvel and Star Wars.
The ultimate goal that Disney wants to achieve is to have guests walk into an attraction and not remember that they are in a theme park. They want guests to enter the worlds of their favorite fictional places and experience the land as the characters would. The stunt robots will help blur the line between reality and fantasy.