Like many people, I’m fascinated by the creative use of technology in Disney theme parks. Yeah, the rides are nice and all, but I’m more interested in how they do it!
Well, Mouse Planet has a little article about a new technology being tested at Disney’s California Adventure: an untethered, walking Audioanimatronic dinosaur named Lucky. Way cool. He walks, has facial expressions and gestures, and even signs autographs by holding a pen in his mouth. Mouse Planet even has video of him.
Lucky stands about eight feet tall, and his head and neck can lift almost straight up. He walks on his two back legs and pulls a very large cart of silk flowers. Lucky and Chandler interact, but Chandler does not operate the character—Lucky is controlled by two discreet operators on the sidelines. Lucky grunts, groans and whines in reaction to Chandler’s comments and events around him. He can blow his nose, wink, smile, and look around.
What is most impressive about Lucky is the degree of articulation in the head and neck, and the wide range of facial features. It’s easy to believe that he is real as he “talks” with Chandler, or whimpers when his balloon floats away, or smiles and winks at a shy child. Lucky’s motions are incredibly smooth—he doesn’t appear robotic in his steps, or the way his head moves around to take in the scenery.