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Disney to Create Walking Animatronic Dinosaur 232

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wait-till-this-goes-wrong dept.
nakhla writes "I came across this article discussing Disney's plans to create an animatronic dinosaur that can roam free through it's Disney's California Adventure park. Disney's Imagineering unit has been working on the technology for several years now. While short on technical details, the article does mention that it will be able to interact with guests in numerous ways. Hopefully it won't go berzerk like the animatronic characters in that old Simpsons episode!" No, hopefully it will go berzerk!
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Disney to Create Walking Animatronic Dinosaur

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  • Nobody exploits technology to hoover money out of your wallet any better than the Mouse.
    • Can't find string terminator '"' anywhere before EOF
    • by SEWilco (27983)
      If someone goes to a tourist destination which involves profit, they expect the company to make them happy to be spending the money. Don't whine about how someone else spends their own money.

      (I haven't been to a Disney location, but Hawaii made me quite happy to be spending my money there...)

      Disney, however, does need to find a new mascot before they lose the Mickey copyright... although perhaps they can just keep playing with minor variations of trademarks to protect their non-film products...

      • Lose their Mickey copyright? Not a chance. You know how many friends in Congress they have.

        Several ways to interact with guests.... let's see, there's stomping, running them into walls, cornering, flinging into the air, stalking, ....
      • by HBPiper (472715)
        Sorry about the appearance of whining. Actually it is mildly jealous admiration of my wife's favorite tourist destination. Disney's fastidious attention to detail is something you must experience first hand. But once you have, very few non-Disney destinations measure up.

        And trying to figure out the science behind some of the stuff they do is very entertaining as well.
        • You know, I really don't want to troll here, but I was really dissapointed with the so called "magic kingdom"...the Efteling (Kaatsheuvel, the Netherlands) was so much more entertaining, the themeing which ran throughout the park was much better (and better integrated), much more imaginative and just plain more fun. The rides are actually exiting (as opposed to magic mountain, which was just a real boring roler coaster in the dark...man, was that a let down) and there is much more pan-agegroup appeal. Not surprising that the Efteling has won the Golden Apple(?), THE prize for amusement parks, more often than Disney's boring mouse. The only thing that did impress me was the setting of the Indiana Jones ride.

          But then, all that's not so surprising considering one of the largest, most prodigious amusementparkride design and manufacturing centres is located just down the road from the Efteling. And maybe Disney was too hyped up in my mind. Anyway, I truly enjoyed Epcot Center and Universal Studios much more than Disney's effort.

          Again, I don't mean to troll, it's just that Disney really dissapointed me in comparison to what I'd seen before.
      • by suman28 (558822)
        U expect the company to make you happy and though some people seem to have this delusion that disney is evil, I for one loved the Disney World Theme park. It was 5 glorious days. When u have have kids and raised them for a few yrs, u will find any means to get away for sometime (even if that means liking Barney).
  • I read about this awhile ago, there have been spy shots on the internet for awhile.
    oh.. and... FIRST POST!!!
  • by Queelix (635663) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:24AM (#4951951)
    Hopefully they will finally get around to re-animating uncle Walt.

    • I think they've waited too long for that, I think he's a little too decayed..... unless he wants to hang around the Haunted Mansion.... actually that would be pretty damn cool!
    • by Greyfox (87712)
      The poor bastard would never survive the realization of what his empire has become. Either that or he'd become dictator of Earth. Actually the second one would be kinda cool. A robotic undead evil dictator would be a lot more interesting than our current options. He'd probably rearchitect the entire world to be just like Disneyland. A happy little society where non-conformists and troublemakers are quietly and efficiently ejected...
  • by SpiritC (163392)
    after what happened in Jurassic Park and they still wanna try it
    • Lifted from here [angelfire.com]:

      Dr. AlJohn Hammond (Richard Attenborough): "This is just a delay -- all major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked."

      Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum): "Yeah, but John, if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists."
    • Yea. Now I'm gonna be nervous every time I use the outhouse.

  • Interactive ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gyan (6853)
    "This will be the first test of untethered Audio-Animatronics and the next phase in Imagineering's quest to increase interaction with visitors."

    Will it eat pesky visitors ?
  • by billmaly (212308) <bill...maly@@@mcleodusa...net> on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:26AM (#4951964)
    Then let them tear Jeff Goldblum to pieces. Yeah, that'd be cool.
  • Yes, "Interaction." Interaction between metal teeth and tourist flesh, HAHAHA.
  • by craenor (623901) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:27AM (#4951979) Homepage
    Need to make some Animatronic Japanese tourists to run in front of it screaming!
  • Westworld... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jdreed1024 (443938) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:28AM (#4951984)
    We all know what happens when you try to build free-range animatronic robots. Regardless of their safeguards, they go nuts and kill people. It's all documented in this film [imdb.com]. Which, incidentally, is what the Simpsons episode is a parody of.
    • Well, westworld and Jurassic Park have 2 things in common: Their author and the whole freaking plot...replace "robot" with "dinosaur" : )

      The Simpson's ep parodied the 2 at once...crafty lil' fellaws! : )

  • by robbyjo (315601) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:28AM (#4951988) Homepage

    That's the magic," Sklar said. "When people see, hear and touch this character, it will be a real groundbreaking experience."

    The character doesn't talk, but can respond with movements. Some of its potential antics are eating popcorn, "stealing" a guest's hat and sneezing. [...]

    Disney chose a dinosaur because children are so fascinated with them, Sklar said, plus "it's a large enough character to get their attention."

    Some visitors will scream "THIEF!!" Others will scream "RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! IT'S GODZILLA!"

    It is indeed a groundbreaking experience. Go Disney go! Scatter thine visitors... :-)

    • Some of its potential antics are eating popcorn, "stealing" a guest's hat and sneezing...
      ...and blowing animatronic snot over everyone in the area...kewl...
    • Popcorn hands? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phorm (591458)
      So in other words... you should probably wash the butter and salt residue off your fingers before putting your hands near its face.
      If my rats (deemed some of the smarter rodents) can't figure out the difference between a food-coated finger and actual food... I'm not about to trust some disney AI!
    • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @12:22PM (#4952379) Journal
      "it's a large enough character to get their attention." -- Or scare the shit right out of them...

      Other potential antics include:
      1. Knocking the living shit out of obnoxous visitors
      2. "Tip over and land on fat guy mode" This is where the dinosaur pretends to have a mechanical glitch and falls towards the fat guy with the 64oz big gulp...
      3. "popcorn ball butt cannon" since it's been eating all that popcorn, it's got ammo!
    • I hope some people remember Disney's proposed amusement park for nearby Manassas that praise the lord was shot down by people from every wing, in significant part because of the comments of Disney execs. I imagine they meant well, sort of, but the whole thing illustrates Disney's preoccupation with money over, well, everything else.

      Manassas, ~50 miles west of Washington DC, was the site of two major Civil War engagements known as the Battles of Bull Run by Yankees more familiar with a nearby creek. Imagine the Animatronic possibilities (discussion from a NPS history [nps.gov]) mindful of the real historic horror (this article doesn't even mention their proposal of a slave auction):
      Disney emphasized the nation's Civil War heritage for its latest venture. .... In an effort to combine education and entertainment, Disney officials hoped to include "painful, disturbing and agonizing" exhibits on slavery and re-create a piece of the underground railroad through which park visitors would escape. The goal, as Rummell later clarified, was to be "entertaining in the sense that it would leave you with something that you could mull over." ....


      At the initial press conference, Senior Vice President Bob Weis made the mistake of saying that, to show the Civil War "with all its racial conflict," attractions would "make you a Civil War soldier . . . [and] make you feel what it was like to be a slave." Weis meant to refer to Disney's use of the new technology of virtual reality, in which visitors could physically enter an environment and explore it. For instance, Disney had created a ride on Aladdin's carpet in which guests would literally feel as if they were flying through a room. Weis did not intend to suggest for Disney's America the sociological impacts associated with slavery, but many listeners immediately made the connection. Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy did not mince words when he reminded readers that "authentic history," as Weis promised, must include such atrocities as slave whippings and rape. Unamused, Milloy urged Disney to stick with fun and keep history, especially slave history, out of the park.
    • "stealing" a guest's hat...

      "We're sorry sir, the dinosaur thought it was a toupe..."

  • Who's gonna give me odds on how long till the first law suit, 'cause some kid gets squished under an animated bronto!
  • Could end up going like the classic Yul Brynner film, Futureworld [imdb.com], which is what I think that classic Simpsons episode is based on.
  • How much longer before we have our very own Disney Westworld [imdb.com]

    Although the wenches would be nice! :)

  • This could be VERY dangerous. The first time a six year old who doesn't know any better puts his hand in the mouth of the dinosaur, and the gears in it cut his hand off, Disney is slapped with a $500 million dollar lawsuit, and you won't see these things ever again.
    • Even before that... if I pay $8 for a bag of popcorn and a dinosaur steals it, I'm going to be more than a little ticked off.
    • by micahmicahmicah (600841) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @12:07PM (#4952282)
      When I was a young child on vacation with my family in Disney, we met up with some employees of the park who were friends of my uncles.

      He was telling us some of the horror stories they have had with malfunctioning animatronics. The one that always stuck in my memory was when they were testing the Hall of Presidents. A prop table had been moved in front of President Lincoln and forgotten about. The routine began, Lincoln began talking, lifted up his arms to gesture and lifted the prop, he then lowered his hands to stand up from his chair and in the process dropped and smashed the table.

      I was also fortunate enough to be in Universal Studios Florida on opening day, there was a terrible storm predicted but the clouds were holding. After waiting for 2 hours past the opening time, they opened the park. They informed us that a few rides might not be working, so for every ticket purchased, we would be recieving an additional ticket to be used at a later date. We went into the park, and here is what I remember.

      Jetsons Wild Ride - went fine.
      Jaws - Broke down while we were in line, people were stuck in the boats.
      Godzilla, broke down just after we got off.

      The best by far was ET! After waiting in a huge line, we get our cards with our names imprinted on the Mag stripe so ET can say our names, then we go to another line. This line was themed to look like the forest that ET was chased through. There was an animatronic of an ET elder, who came up through the forest floor, after some smoke, He kept malfunctioning and jumping up and down in clouds of smoke, speaking the whole while. A red light was supposed to run through the bushes to look like it was ET being chased, this too had problems as it was blinking and stopping. We get all the way up in the line, just about to hand them our cards when the power goes out completely and the place goes pitch black. About 30 Seconds later, the emergency lights come on and they guide us out with flashlights. On the way out they walked us through a part of the ride where I looked up, and some other unfortunate riders were stranded on the Bicycle platform suspended in mid air about 30 Ft. off the ground. We were given another free ticket each on our way out of the park, and I kept my ET magstrip card.

      Theme Parks have a long history of covering up these types of things. Disney has a policy of not stopping CPR until a person has left the park grounds. Rumor has it that this was even done in Disneyland during the infamous Beheading on Space Mountain.

      I was an employee of Six Flags Great Adventure for 3 years. Mentioning the Haunted House ( which caught fire and killed 3 ) is a terminable offense. While working there I did have the chance to witness a few other events. 1997 - From the High Dive, the diver lost his footing and fell into the water flailing and landing on his back. The ripples in the water caused multiple lacerations in his skin. I was on lunch break when the call came over the radio for First Aid. Like any other teen would have done, we all ran to see. I've also seen a (stupid) man get out of his bumper car and get hit, and seen two of the parks coasters (Red Track on "Batman and Robin: The Chiller and Great American Scream Machine) get stuck upside down.
  • by limekiller4 (451497) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:31AM (#4952011) Homepage
    What would be really sweet is if they could hook up some really enormous piledriver-like devices all over the park and synchronize them falling with the steps of the anamatron. That way it would have that hyper-realistic whole-earth-shuddering effect during each footfall.
  • The first Animatronic figures, called A-4s, could turn and open their mouths to be synchronized with music. The next phase, called A-100s, had more real-life movement and were used in Pirates of the Caribbean and "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" at Disneyland, ...

    What happens when they get to the T1000 then!
  • For an interesting short story tie-in, take a look at Howard Waldrop's "Heirs of the Perisphere".

    FictionWise has an excerpt at:
    http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/eBook519.ht m

    Take a look and you'll understand the connection.

    >>

  • by DjMd (541962) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:35AM (#4952037) Journal
    As the simpsons say (prof frink)
    "You've got to listen to me. Elementary chaos theory tells us that all robots will eventually turn against their masters and run amok in an orgy of blood and the kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and the hurting and shoving."

    'How much time do we have professor?'
    "Well according to my calculations, the robots won't go berserk for at least 24 hours."
    (The robots go berserk.)
    "Oh, I forgot to er, carry the one."
    Please don't moddd me down, Niiiice Laaadyy!
  • Flight 262 for Delos, now boarding!

    -72
  • Hmm, if they can get this thing working maybe we can have AT-ATs to go along with our Star Wars program that GW's trying to reinstate.
  • For a biped...why couldn't they employ technology like in Segway [segway.com]. Use the gyroscopes to autobalance the unit but instead of rotating wheels just have muscle like control over a foot where the whole body is pulled forward (Tibialis anterior [maricopa.edu]) or back (Gastrocnemius [maricopa.edu]) by the stable foot against the ground.

    Any problems with this idea? You would need some side to side stabilization too. For Standing still you would use both feet to stabilize but when walking you would have to only use one (pick up and lean the unit forward).

    Just a thought

    http://sitemaker.umich.edu/dan.coughlin
    • Yes, and that is how most 2 legged robots work. Its just that.
      1. A bit more complicated.
      2. Some kid can easily shove it over (they can probably shove this four legged thing over too, but it would require much more effort I would imagine)
      3. 2 Legged dinosaur.. hmm raptor? Cool!

  • Awesome (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Orne (144925) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:39AM (#4952068) Homepage
    Rawr!

    The Slashdot crowd spends most of their time bitching about the copyright escapades of the Disney corporation, but you cannot forget that they are a world leader in robotics applications. If you ever want to see some awesome electronics, watch the Travel Channel's behind the scenes shows some times; they show the maintenance side of the parks, and how much "small" stuff is going on (audio systems & minor mechanicals) that you don't always consciously notice.

    Besides, in a battle of the (mega-)corporations, I'd root for Disney to beat Sony any time... Disney just has that knack for making their toys visually pleasing & fun to use. Plus, I've always wanted a pet dinosaur, and if we can't genetically engineer one ala Jurassic Park, might as well go for the next best substitute (and robots don't pee on your carpets)
    • Re:Awesome (Score:4, Informative)

      by CatWrangler (622292) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @12:10PM (#4952291) Journal
      Besides, in a battle of the (mega-)corporations, I'd root for Disney to beat Sony any time

      I don't. Disney is making most of it's toys with slave labor in China at 30 cents an hour, from young teen aged female workers, for the most part, who work 12-14 hour days and get just 2 days off a month.

      I think I will root for somebody else.

    • but you cannot forget that they are a world leader in robotics applications
      Are you kidding me? Disney's mechanical puppets have got nothing on these guys [impress.co.jp]. They're not just cute, they're also pretty incredible, to anyone who knows anything about robotics or machine vision. More videos here [impress.co.jp] (or just change the URL).

      America is going to need to work pretty hard if we're going to compete with the Japanese in the burgeoning robot industry. (And yes, I say that with a straight face. Although I did almost type "burgeoning giant robot industry" by accident.)
      • Hot damn that's cool! This appears to be the same robot that was advertised in the Sony commercials delivering the mail... except the one in the commercial was life-size (and slower). The SDR-4X [tokyodv.com] has one hell of a promotional video...

        I spent my masters degree learning about control theory, with a helping of robots on the side... there's some neat stuff coming down the pike in vision recognition (in my opinion). And I agree with that last statement, the US needs to get its rear in gear. I don't know what you'd call it, the residential robot industry? Our nation's technological slowdown is a systematic problem of many sectors of our society, but that's an issue for another day.
  • by The Kow (184414) <putnamp&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:41AM (#4952077)
    Strom Thurmond to be fitted with prosthetic walking aids.
    • Strom Thurmond to be fitted with prosthetic walking aids.

      You forgot it needs to be 'animated'. How about:

      Strom Thurmond to be fitted with prosthetic walking aids ... and pumped full of Viagra!
    • The Kow to lose any moderation rights as due to mention Strom Thurmond

      Moderation points to go to Frisky

  • by BJH (11355) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:42AM (#4952088)
    An as-yet unnamed dinosaur (Tyrannosaurus, of course - is there any other kind?) will begin roaming (rampaging) through a designated area ("Bloodbath Town") of either California Adventure or Disneyland this spring, said Marty Sklar, vice chairman of Imagineering. This will be the first test of untethered (unfettered) Audio-Animatronics and the next phase in Imagineering's quest to increase interaction (exterminate) with visitors.

    Disney created Audio-Animatronic figures and has used them in attractions since 1963, beginning with birds in the Enchanted Tiki Room (and they all look like what they really are - stupid moving dolls). But this will be the first one that's not fixed to a spot (cause the engineers got sick of doing that boring shit). An unseen operator (HAHAHA!! You will NEVER catch ME!!!) will guide the dinosaur's movements, allowing it to respond (chase) to guests (and eat them).

    "That's the magic," Sklar said. "When people see, hear and touch (and get fragged by) this character, it will be a real groundbreaking experience (not to mention a real blast for the guys who get to run it and stomp on all those drooling rugrats who infest the park)."

    The character doesn't talk (hey, six-inch teeth - who needs to talk? Just smile!), but can respond with movements ("slam jaws together over lawyer's head"... oops, wrong movie). Some of its potential antics are eating popcorn (sorry, I meant "people"), "stealing" a guest's hat (and the head under it) and sneezing (gotta get the blood of its snout somehow, right?).

    Imagineers have long dreamed about walking Animatronics, but it took technology a while to catch up with their creative minds (yeah, getting them to walk and chew at the same time is a bitch).
    • I wish I had mod points, because this just made my day :) Crunchy visitors
    • Not a biped (Score:3, Interesting)

      Tyrannosaurus, of course - is there any other kind?

      I don't think that even Disney could pull off a biped. Mabye the could have a T. rex use its tail, but my bet is a protoceratops. They look enough like a triceretops to be familiar, but don't have all those horns to get in the way of customer interaction.

      But they might surprise us with a less familiar animal. A Maiasaurus would be so cuddly as to destroy the effect of having a dinosaur in the first place, but there are pleny of cool looking obscure things that they could use.

  • > Hopefully it won't go berzerk like the animatronic
    > characters in that old Simpsons episode!

    This was blatant rip off of the 1973 movie West World, which is a movie you should see. IMDB [imdb.com] has the info about it.

    It's really a quintessential 'robots gone mad' kind of movie.

  • by LittleGuy (267282) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:46AM (#4952117)
    Especially when it roams around the park, bonking people over the head with blunt objects and yelling, "Not the Mama!"
  • then it'll be the plague. Then... Electric Negroes running amok at the behest of an amoral AI with a master plan for world domination.

    Matt Ruff was right! Disney is the root of all evil.

    All we need now is Meisterbrau.

    (if you get the reference... you're as sad an pathetic as I am)
  • John Hammond: All major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked.
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, but John, if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists.


    I'm so glad Disney will be filling in the 'malfunctioning attraction consumes tourists' void that has been present in their theme parks.
    Let's all cross our fingers and hope they program the t-rex with a taste for laywers!

    ~Philly
  • by Badgerman (19207) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:51AM (#4952154)
    As cool as this could be, the entire thing sounds unfeasable from a legal standpoint. Just imagining the size, the potential power of the mechanics, and the chance for error, the possibility it gets cracked, and do on, I can't imagine this actually getting done.

    Besides, imagine the headlines of "Mechanical Dinosaur Falls On Top of Family of Three Due to Faulty Programming" . . .
  • by Taos (12343) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:52AM (#4952162) Homepage
    The first Animatronic figures, called A-4s, could turn and open their mouths to be synchronized with music. The next phase, called A-100s....

    Wait until those model numbers reach T-100, then we'll need to call in Linda Hamilton to clean up the mess.

    Rich

  • by Picass0 (147474) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @11:55AM (#4952189) Homepage Journal

    The world's most expensive Turok level!!!

  • OK, mix in the ingredients:
    • Jurassic Park
    • West World
    • Terminator
    • Microsoft Software

    ...a large lizard knocks on your door and asks, "Are you Scott McNealy [sun.com]?
    in a voice that sounds destinctly like Yul Brynner. [thegoldenyears.org]. You answer "no" and the lizard says, "I'm going to eat you, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera."

    ...somebody else finish this: I think we know where it's going.
  • They spent all that time and effort when all they had to do was google on MPAA [mpaa.org]
  • Oh no... (Score:4, Funny)

    by ByteHog (247706) <chris@bytehog . c om> on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @12:10PM (#4952289) Homepage
    Please oh please don't color it purple and make it walk around singing.. I would be forced to defend myself with a large baseball bat.

    Hmm... actually that might be fun..
  • "When people see, hear and touch this character, it will be a real groundbreaking experience."

    So they plan on making this sucker pretty big, eh?
  • I don't want it to be in the park. I don't want it to be where the creative people work. I want it to be in the Disney legal department, and where the managers who pay Fritz Hollings hang out.

    -Rob

  • The only thing I can thing of is....

    WestWorld, where nothing can go wrong
    go wrong
    go wrong
    go wrong

  • Disney to Create Walking Animatronic Dinosaur to Crush Your Fair Use Rights. ;)
  • I saw a prototype of this about a year ago on the discovery channel, or maybe it was their website. None the less, this thing was huge, dwarfing an SUV and it had fluid movements - similar to the impressive way the honda robot moves - except that it looked like it could use a SUV as a soccer ball. This thing looked incredibly scarey when it turned and walked towards the camera. Terminator 3 comes to mind when remembering it. Oh! I found it. HERE IS THE LINK [discover.com] and check out the video [mit.edu] too!!!
  • Disney is now lobbying to retroactively extend copyright laws to cover the dinosaurs. Although dinosaurs have fallen into the public domain, Disney believes that their new copyright on them will lead to greater innovation in the field of reptiles. After all, who else is creating Dinosaurs(TM) any more?

    An insider at Disney has leaked the fact that the Dinosaurs(TM) are part of a copyright army that will be used to enforce Disney's intellectual property claims. Lawerence Lessig beware...if you see a Dinoasur(TM)...run!
  • I can just see it now:

    Robot dinosaur kicked by snotty kids - or better yet chased down as part of the "Jurasic Park" exhibit, and said robot yelling out:
    "Why was I programmed to feel pain?"

    Later - the Wild Wild West robotic set:
    Again with Prof. Frink at the helm of a Giant steam powered spider:
    "Oh-hoy! With the stepping and the squishing and the webs made of NYLONNNN!!"

    My apologies to Simpsons fans everywhere, but I'm beginning to wonder if the Imagineers are spending too much time watching the Simpsons, or have a stash of "Imagination" that the Feds would like to know about.
  • I haven't seen a 5 year old kid yet who wasn't scared of Mickey Mouse the first time they saw him "in person". This "attraction" will have them sitting in the corner rocking back and forth all night saying "Can't sleep, monster will get me. Can't sleep, monster will get me".
  • Today giant anamatronic dinsaurs, tomorrow battlemechs! The Japanese are so keen in AIBO for the same reason. You gotta start somewhere.

    Personally I can't wait to drive my heavily armed and armoured fusion powered battlemech to work. The SUV monkeys would never cut ME off again!

  • Featured in Wired (Score:2, Informative)

    by Megahurtz (154320)
    This is featured in Wired (most current issue) as well as a rather interesting atricle about the folks @ Disney Imagineering.
  • Control problems (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @01:02PM (#4952694) Homepage
    A slow-moving quadruped walker on flat ground with good traction isn't that hard. It's been done many times, from windup toys to earthmoving equipment. Running, hills, and traction control are hard, but Disney doesn't have to address any of those problems for a big, slow dinosaur.

    The big problem will be keeping it from stepping on somebody. They'll probably stick to a static tripod walk (3 feet on the ground at all times, and the CG kept over the ground contact triangle). They'll need redundant sensors in the feet capable of detecting foreign objects, like small children. Then they can just do a freeze (motion stops, but control system remains active) if there's something in the way.

  • Oh wait...that's already taken by Battleship Galactica in the future...or was that in the past...OH it must have been in the past, 'cause Erin Moran isn't a babe any more.. Beede Beede beede!
  • For some reason, when I read that I couldn't help think of some old 50's science fiction movie where they'd be calling in the Flying Wing [globalsecurity.org] to take out the monster.

    As someone else already pointed out: it's ``berserk'' and not ``berzerk''. Maybe you were thinking of an old record label. :-)

  • and if they can give it some very general commands like walk this direction, or surprise that kid, that would be pretty amazing.

    Yeah...I hope they have a vacuum cleaner built-in that thing, 'cause a walking dinosaur that surprises kids is likely to cause quite a few "accidents" from the terrified kid's part, if you know what I mean...

    That's the magic," Sklar said. "When people see, hear and touch this character, it will be a real groundbreaking experience.

    And possibly a real bone breaking experience...

    Some of its potential antics are eating popcorn, "stealing" a guest's hat and sneezing.

    "Here's your hat back sir...filled to the brim with soggy pop-corn! Have a nice day!"

    The first Animatronic figures, called A-4s, could turn and open their mouths to be synchronized with music. The next phase, called A-100s, had more real-life movement and were used in Pirates of the Caribbean and "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" at Disneyland, where the figure stands and talks to the audience. But none have been able to directly interact with visitors.

    The latest, free-roaming 4 legged animatronics will be called AT-ATs, and are covered in a thick armour that even ground-based blasters cannot penetrate. They also sing and dance!

    Disney chose a dinosaur because children are so fascinated with them, Sklar said, plus "it's a large enough character to get their attention."


    Other possible uses for the robotic dinosaur will be raiding p2p user's homes, Jack Valenti only has to say the word. Disney is currently cooperating with DARPA to create the next generation cuddly animatronics, wich will also serve as a mobile launcher for ground-to-air missiles. Children are expected to be delighted.

  • Beware of Fake Monkey Automatons [slashdot.org]

    No. Beware of Fake Dinosaur Automatons.

  • I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Troody, MIT's robot dinosaur, [mit.edu] mentioned on Slashdot a year and a half ago [slashdot.org]. The head researcher, Peter Dilworth, said he was going to market talking, human-size versions to theme parks. Guess Disney went off on their own.

  • by Gudlyf (544445)
    "An unseen operator will guide the dinosaur's movements..."

    "Pay no attention to the man behind the tree wearing the Goofy constume!"

  • If they worked with the guys at RealDoll they'd have the mots successful park in the history of the world. At least with lonely men and computer geeks.
  • I had a very scary experience at Disney in California a few years ago. I went on the "It's a Small World" Ride and the music didn't work. As if the ride doesn't already look like a shooting range when the music is on. You could hear the gears turning, the crazy robotic gestures and the boat bumping the underwater rails. It was like disney hell.

    Another side note however, I would think that they could design this robot to be harmless. Example: give it no sharp edges, make the dino. shuffle its feet instead of taking big steps. If Disney makes this Dino. it is going to be the NERF BALL equivelant of the dinosaur world.

  • Just as long as they keep Whoopi Goldberg away [videoeta.com] from it, I'll be ok.

  • I'd much prefer that they spent the money cloning the real thing from DNA... Now THAT would be interesting!

    -- Multics

  • During a recent visit to DizzyWorld in Orlando (we were actually in town for a conference), my wife and I came across what was the absolute highlight of the day (to my eyes, anyway). Some genius in (I'm assuming) "Imagineering" had fitted a standard park trash can out with an RC receiver, short-range RF voice transceiver (full duplex, I think), steerable drive system, and a set of batteries. The gear was all (most likely) buried in the bottom of the thing to give it a nice, low center of gravity.

    Its operator was hiding out a few hundred feet away, on an upper balcony (I spotted the tip of his transmitter's antenna when he moved), and was rolling the thing around and doing some good-natured remote harassment of the visitors. At one point, he rolled the thing along next to someone in one of those electric whoosh-carts, and said "Hey, lady... Keep it under 45, Okay?"

    What made it even funnier was that there were a couple of kids in the area, chasing the thing all over the place, going nuts trying to figure out how it worked (the operator, wisely, never let it stay in one place for too long).

    That kind of thing is just plain silly. Quality silly. That's hard to come by. This full-blown dinosaur of theirs sounds just plain tacky. That, unfortunately, is all too easy to come by.

    I guess what I'm wondering is; Why bother? The entire Orlando park is one huge, ongoing, live-action commercial already. Don't think so? Name me another park where every single ride exits either through, or in proximity to, a similarly-themed gift shop.

    Anyway, why blow all that money on something that is most likely going to be murder to maintain, in terms of both time and finances, and that is unlikely to fool any child over the age of, say, four? Why not spend it instead on some real exhibits for their "Animal Kingdom" (Lord, what a joke that was!) park, and at least contribute to the zoological field instead of just making a token appearance of doing so?

    Did I mention that the both of us had to keep suppressing an urge to yell out "ANGEL DUST!" during the part of the DizzyWorld parade where the crowd is cued to yell "pixie dust?"

  • They need to put two of them on a small island along with Bill Gates.

    "Okay Mr. Gates, you may switch one of them on... One is running Windows, the other Linux... Muhahahahaha...."
  • I want my Stepford wife!

You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing viability of FORTRAN. -- Alan Perlis

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