Disney’s Stuntronics Are Getting More Intelligent…and Superhuman

You know how Disney is developing several new attractions and even whole lands around the world? Well they’re developing super humanoids to go with those…and they’re simultaneously creepy and amazing.

Disney showcased their robot stuntman — Stickman — earlier this year. He’s a z-shaped, 40-pound robot capable of performing somersaults while flying through the air. But Stickman has since evolved and can now do much, much more…

 

Enter stuntronics: 90-pound stunt robots designed to think for themselves when performing incredible feats high in the air. Disney’s self-aware robots are becoming more intelligent — especially when it comes to stunt performing.

This type of technology isn’t only for wowing guests, though it will certainly do that. “We’d like to do something that’s not just human, but beyond human,” says Morgan Pope, an associate research scientist with Disney Research.

In other words, if you had, say, a superhuman like Iron Man (who would certainly be involved in Marvel Lands in Disney California Adventure, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort) — it would be easier and more painless to train a robot to perform his feats than endanger a human stunt person trained to do the same things.

Iron Man?

The new and improved stuntronics have their very own brain — an internal microcontroller and two sensor systems, according to Popular ScienceInternal Measurement Units (IMUs) consist of accelerometers and gyroscopes that help with orientation and position, and laser technology (which estimates velocity and height) allows the stuntronics to make real-time decisions while flying through the air by bouncing light off of the surface below. Some of the technology is similar to what’s found in self-driving cars.

Stuntronics can tuck their knees, pull in their arms, and even slow down their own spin to ensure a flawless landing, according to Walt Disney Imagineering. The robot is literally calculating in the air when it needs to do these things based on its sensors, because, just like with a human acrobat, “each throw is never exactly the same.”

Disney Imagineering’s Stuntronics

According to Bob Chapek at the IAAPA convention today, the technology comes in handy “if you have a robot you want to fly.”

OK, so cool…but creepy, right? Like robot uprising kind of creepy? According to Pope, “…when…the robot is making a decision to untuck in a way that you didn’t program, then there’s a real feeling of life.” Shudder.

We’re speculating that Disney can use this technology in multiple areas, from Marvel Land to Star Wars, Galaxy’s Edge. Superheroes and droids alike can brought to life with this level of imagineering.

Disney’s previous feats with animatronics, including the super weird but extremely lifelike Shaman in Animal Kingdom’s Pandora in Walt Disney World, have made robots more and more lifelike. But the newest generation of stuntronics are clearly the most intelligent yet.

Read more about new lands and technologies being brought to Disney Parks here!

Read more about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge here!

Sarah has built a career in communications and marketing that started when she was the editor of her high school newspaper. She has written for AllEars.net since 2018, and enjoys sharing Disney news and updates with the AllEars community. She's been a Disney fan ever since her first visit to Walt Disney World when she was 5, and has been known to arrange trips around visiting a Disney park!

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