Disneys face cloning creates more realistic less creepy animatronic robots

first_imgCreating realistic, humanoid robots seems to be one thing the technology world hasn’t conquered successfully yet. Humanoid robots always seem to look frightening — right in the deepest depths of the uncanny vally — but at Disney animatronics are key for many of their attractions and rides. Disney Research has come up with a system that accurately recreates the face of any human and their facial expressions and put them onto an animatronic bot.Disney calls the process “face cloning” and they accomplish just it by first making a 3D scan of the face. During the scan the subject performs a variety of facial expressions while the computer uses motion capture technology to capture every detail of the expressions made, right down to where the wrinkles appear and how the skin moves. The result is a digital mesh of the face that Disney can use to create a design of a realistic robot head that will replicate each of the expressions the subject made during motion capture.Next is the skin. Disney prefer to use silicone because it’s what looks best on the robots, even if it isn’t the most realistic material available. The silicone skin differs in thickness in certain places to help make it move more like the real thing, and the digital model gives a guide on where the silicone should be adjusted as well as how it should be placed on the robot’s head.Liquid silicone is then injected into a 3D mold, the skin is attached to the head, and the process is complete. The only difference between this new clone of the original human being is that the head is slightly larger in order to compensate for the model’s more limited range of movements, but the difference is minor.This technology won’t only lead to better looking animatronics for Disney’s theme parks, it could also change the way we create humanoid robots. Disney is still looking to improve this tech though — the next step is increasingly flexible, multi-layered skin. This will make the skin and facial movements even more lifelike.More at Disney Research, via Gizmaglast_img read more