Monday April 10, 2017

Robots are Going to... Hug us All?

Disney has reportedly filed for a new patent for robotic versions of its animated characters, presumably to replace those pesky humans in suits at theme parks. The robots are intended to have a "posing interface, providing soft collisions, and facilitating hugging (or soft human interaction)" or as the Independent puts it: "soft body" robots built specifically for "physical interaction with humans", which makes it sound a whole lot kinkier.

While I'm usually not a fan of robots taking human jobs, this might be one area where it makes sense. Imagine being inside a huge fur costume, in Florida in the heat and humidity in the middle of the summer, exerting yourself to move around in a heavy costume. To prevent heat exhaustion indoor performers currently work for 30-45 minutes, with 30-45 minute breaks in between. Outside when it is really hot, the work time can get as short as 15-20 minutes. This is certainly one area where robots might do better than humans, though I wonder if the interaction might become less authentic, if there is such a thing as an authentic interaction with Mickey Mouse.

News Image

"In practice, the interior space is filled with a gas such as air, and the pressure measured or sensed by the pressure sensor is the pressure of the gas in the interior space, which increases from a non-contact value to a contact value (such as when a human contacts (e.g., squeezes) the outer sidewall of the link)."