ADDING LIFE THROUGH ENGAGING INTERACTIONS
Connecting with characters is a hallmark of the Disney Parks experience. But sometimes those connections come by surprise — from a chance encounter on a stroll through the park to making an unexpected friend in line. And when those characters are powered by advanced technology, it takes the thoughtful touch of Imagineers to turn a meeting into a memory.
Walt Disney Imagineering has developed technology that enables autonomous characters to engage with their surroundings in a way that’s recognizable, charismatic and grounded in personal connection. With the help of Imagineers, these systems can take on the spoken and unspoken vocabulary of humans and navigate the world with ease.
The Vyloo are tiny characters with big personalities. And those personalities are brought to life through algorithms — rules computers use for decision-making. Those decisions can be just about anything — from how long to make eye contact to how fast to turn a head, and to whether or not a character feels like falling asleep. By writing and tweaking those rules, Imagineers can quickly give individual characters distinct personalities. And by combining those personalities with input from simple sensors, these characters can decide for themselves how to interact with the world around them.
Every bit of new technology is inspired by something that came before it. To build the Vyloo, Imagineers studied how puppeteers bring even the simplest objects to life through pantomime and gesture. And they recreated those techniques using advanced animation blending, computer vision and artificial intelligence. The point was to empower each character with a way of thinking that would allow them to go far beyond following a script and, to interact endlessly with their environment and with curious visitors. The Vyloo found a home in the collection of Taneleer Tivan, residing in the queue of Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! at Disney California Adventure.
"Automatronics" is a project that gives our Audio-Animatronics® characters the intelligence to freely roam and to explore our theme parks. Automatronics detect the world around them and make their own decisions about where to go, what to do and how to interact with other characters and with the interesting humans they might encounter along the way.
Testing in Real Time
We want to fill our lands with a sense of kinetic energy and indigenous life — citizens that truly live in our story worlds. To achieve this, Walt Disney Imagineering’s Research & Development team tested a prototype Automatronics character named “Jake” in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park in California. This allowed the team to understand and enhance the art and technology of bringing autonomous characters to life in even the most unpredictable of conditions. And it allowed guests in the world of tomorrow to come face to face with a charmingly persistent droid.