Disney just patented a soft robot that can interact with kids

Imagine Disney world with robots, not people, dressed up as Minne and Mickey Mouse. Check out Disney’s new patent for the soft robot.

Is it possible that robots, rather than humans in suits, will be the new mascots at Walt Disney World? On April 6, 2017, a patent was filed by Disney that suggests they have plans to make soft body robots that you could one day be interacting with at Disney's theme parks.

A soft robot that can physically interact with kids

The patent document emphasises that the robot would be soft so that there is less of a possibility of a child getting injured while interacting with the robots.

"To physically interact with children," the patent says, "the inventors understood that the robot should be soft and durable."

The application also describes a robot that has components filled with air and water to avoid any harsh impacts with children. Even more amazing is that the patent describes a robot with sensors to detect the pressure of a hug, for example, so that it can adjust the amount of air or water to prevent harm. It could also sense other accidental collisions and self-regulate accordingly.

Disney's patent application states that "it has proven difficult to provide wholly safe interactions between humans and robots simply by operating these humanoid and other robots with controlled movements." If this soft robot is realised, it will make parents less cautious about having their children around these machines.

Disney researchers have already released videos of a soft bodied robot delicately holding objects:

The prototype was based on a mystery character 

To test out the friendly robot, Disney researchers created a prototype based on an animated character, though they didn't specify which one: 

The application describes "a donut shape, a cylinder, and a cylinder with a round end."

"This robot's locomotive style and other motions, as well as its physical form and kinematic structure, were modelled after a given animated character (e.g., a character from an animated film or television show)."

The application describes the structure of the body: it will include "a donut shape, a cylinder, and a cylinder with a round end." The number of Disney characters that fit this profile are endless, so, until the day these robotic mascots appear, we'll just have to wait and see. 

Revolutionary patent ideas 

If this invention is realised, it could present Disney with revolutionary advances. These plush robots could reduce labour costs and prevent collisions with children. 

If you have an idea that could revolutionise a company, or even an entire industry, don't hesitate to reach out to Alder IP. Our patent lawyers are always excited to hear about new ideas and give you expert advice on perfecting your filing. Contact us today to learn more.