Enlarge / Awwww, doesn’t Disney’s huggable patent prototype look so soft and cuddly? (credit: US Patent and Trademark Office)
The Disney Enterprises group filed a US patent in February that hints at a possible future for its theme parks: humanoid robots designed for maximum hugging efficiency.
The patent, which was first reported by the Orlando Sentinel, has a suitably warm and fuzzy name: “Soft body robot for physical interaction with humans.” It describes mostly rigid robots, with the exception of “fluid-filled voids,” “flexible membranes,” and “pressure sensors,” and these would all work in tandem to guide the robots’ joint motion.
Ideally, this would result in “a soft, modular robot that is huggable and interactive.”
According to the filing, Disney’s inventors have already tested prototypes of this hugging robot with children, and in those tests, “the robot was robust to playful, physical interaction.” (We assume that is science-speak for “nobody was hugged to death.”)
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