Please move over. Spot, there’s a new adorable robot in town, and he or she might one day persuade you, or more likely your child, that their favorite Disney character is real. TechCrunch has detailed Project Kiwi, an in-development robotics platform from the company’s Imagineering research and development studio, in a lengthy new piece.
It’s the result of more than three years of work, and it’s a small robot that can move and act on its own, as well as take on the appearance of a variety of characters, including, as you can see, Baby Groot.
Imagineering set out with Project Kiki to create a robotic actor that could one day interact with Disney theme park guests and make them feel as if they were face-to-face with their favorite characters.
When the team began working on the project, there were no robots capable of the task, so they created their own. The majority of Project Kiwi‘s components are custom-made, and it includes some clever design elements.
It, for example, has a hollow skeleton that allows circulating air to cool its motors and actuators.
While the robot appears to be a technological breakthrough in many ways, don’t expect to see it in a Disney park anytime soon. Before Project Kiwi leaves the lab, Imagineering told TechCrunch that it still has a lot of work to do.
One upcoming area of focus will be a new set of actuators that will improve the robot’s ability to handle unexpected interactions, such as a child running up to hug it, which could topple it over.
The team is also developing a new sensor suite to help Kiwi understand the world and recognize human faces. Another area in which the robot could improve is its battery life.
The current model has a battery life of about 45 minutes. All of this is to say that you can put off planning your next trip to Disney World.