Saturday, March 20, 2010

D&M Innoventions : Special Audio Animatronics

D&M Innoventions series are each week-end on Disney and more and the goal is to introduce some amazing technologies. If you like Epcot, Tomorrowland and Audio-Animatronics, then this article is for you!

We begin with RoboThespian which is a great Audio Animatronic created by Engineered Arts. This first video showing RoboThespian having a check-up you will learn the secrets of its making.

In this next video RoboThespian demonstrates how his movement routines can be created using Blender, the open source 3D animation application. The virtual robot drives the movements of the real robot hardware.

In this last video RoboThespian demonstrates content playback and control using a touch screen interface.

The Japanese as we know love robots, and this next one is coming from Japan. Yotaro, the Baby Robot was created to be a Baby Simulator. As you'll guess when you will see Yotaro’s oversized head, Yotaro is not only made of robotic elements but also have a projector behind his head to simulate a face. Yotaro reacts to the user through a sophisticated emotion-control system that watches and senses what they are doing and provides an accompanying reaction. This baby simulator can do a variety of things that make it much more sophisticated than the standard baby training dolls, like crying real tears on its 2-d face.

As someone said in a comment about the video: "It's almost comforting to know that the Japanese will always be there to come up with something even more bizarre every day as if the universe would end if they suddenly stopped!"

Audio Animatronics may also leave the Earth soon and go on the Moon with NASA JSC's "Project M". The NASA video below depicts a Robonaut-based, tele-operated mission to the Moon - one that JSC claims could be accomplished in 1000 days once the go-ahead will be given. The robot will be controlled from the Earth using motion capture. Hope we will see this for real soon!

But how this future NASA robot will work using motion capture? Well, let's come back to RoboThespian which can use the same technique. The video below show a demonstration of the prototype motion capture device, more or less the same technique that will be used for the NASA robot on the moon and almost the same one that WED Imagineers used for the Carousel of Progress Audio Animatronics 45 years ago!

Videos: copyright NASA, Engineered Arts Ltd.

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