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08 October 2018 by Dan Gray

How Disney are using Advanced Robotics

How Disney are using Advanced Robotics

When we go to the cinema, we all want to be entertained. We want to see something that amazes us and pushes the boundaries of our imagination. But what happens when the astonishment of an audience puts lives (specifically those of the stunt team) in danger? Should this push the professionals to step up, or the studios to start thinking outside of the box for creative solutions?

Hollywood has been constantly raising the bar in terms of the spectacles we expect of big-budget action films. The Mission: Impossible series alone has always tried to outdo itself with insane stunt sequences in every iteration, and now we’re reaching a point where the question should probably be asked; how dangerous is too dangerous?

The obvious answer would be to substitute more real-world stunt sequences with the computer-generated, putting no lives in danger to satisfy the crowds. However, this work can be time-consuming, and unless done by the correct people with the correct budget, CGI can leave a bad taste in the audience’s mouth (just look at the shocking moustache removal work on Henry Cavill in Justice League - awful).

In the wake of this, Disney (you may have heard of them, they’re a little studio that owns everything you love) have spent years working on a solution; Stickman.

Stickman is a product of Disney's Imagineering Research and Development department, which was set up to explore robotics, virtual reality and other emerging technologies. And whilst he may sound like a superhero with all the powers of a small twig, he’s actually a very powerful piece of robotic kit that can perform complex acrobatic displays with pinpoint accuracy.

Equipped with numerous accelerometers to calculate angles in pitch and tilt, as well as laser guidance to analyse distance from the ground and other obstacles in order to calculate the time required to execute moves, the humanoid robot is a seriously sophisticated piece of tech that can deliver the perfect superhero moves mid-air. And all without the serious risk of human injury that comes with stunt doubles.

So can we expect Stickman be used in the next big blockbuster? Well, probably not just yet... the first job for the stunt robot is likely to be at the Disneyland parks as a mid-show attraction.

Stickman to the rescue!