Disney has filed for a patent for a “soft body robot for physical interaction with humans” – a description which already sounds like it was written by a robot. The proposed design is for “a humanoid robot,” and its joints, support elements, and controls are “designed for reducing collision impacts during human interaction.”
Run while you can, children.
The robot is engineered specifically for safe human interaction, particularly with children; this suggests that Disney will eventually want to use these robots in their theme parks. “The inventors recognized that there was a need for robots that can safely interact with humans and, particularly, with children,” reads the patent filing. “To physically interact with children, the inventors understood that the robot should be soft and durable. With this in mind, a robot physical and control design was created by the inventors with soft and deformable body parts (or modules, segments, or the like).”
Disney has already built a “toy-sized” prototype of their design, and they included some schematics with the application. As io9 points out, these schematics suggest that Disney’s prototype was for cuddly marshmallow robot Baymax, from Big Hero 6.
While a patent filing is often preemptive, meant to secure rights to a technology before it is fully ready to deploy, Disney’s filing made it clear that they have plans for the future of robots.
“As robotic systems become cheaper, more reliable, and more capable, their prevalence in our everyday environment continues to increase. Robots can be found providing interactive guidance or entertainment in stores and amusement parks and in more dynamic settings like homes, schools, hospitals, and the workplace where they teach, provide therapy, and lend an extra set of hands. In these more dynamic scenarios, robots and humans often work in close proximity where they physically interact with one another.”
Whether this one’s headed the way of Terminator, Westworld, or Baymax, TMSers…Be prepaaared.
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