Disney Imagineers have risen the bar again by creating a fully-functioning, mobile Groot robot for Disney park guests to encounter during their visit. Their latest endeavor, Kiwi, aims to build small-scale and free-roaming robotic characters from various Disney film properties. First up is everyone’s favorite space tree from of the Galaxy, Groot.
Project lead at Project Kiwi, R&D Imagineer Principal Scott LaValley, had this to say about his team’s goal with bringing Groot to life:
“Project Kiwi started about three years ago to figure out how we can bring our smaller characters to life at their actual scale in authentic ways. It’s an exciting time for bipedal robotics and with an incredible team and our combination of technology, artistry and magic, we are bringing characters to life that could not have happened anywhere but Disney.”
The toddler-sized robot is a feat of engineering. With rendered textures on the body, accurate costuming, ability to make eye contact with guests, and a perfect recreation of Groot’s ambling and personality, the small figure feels like a living and breathing being. This seems to have been a dream of Disney Imagineers for a long time. One visit to a Disney park makes clear how important animatronics are to the fully immersive experience Imagineers are trying to provide. Until now, most of these animatronics have been stationary or limited in some capacity.
This news is especially exciting on the heels of announcing its April 30 reopening. Although there is no timetable for when guests can expect to encounter Groot or other Project Kiwi creations during their Disney park visits, what Project Kiwi has managed to do is spectacular. If the Groot robot looks as impressive as it does in these early stages of development, then the final product surely has the potential to meet or even surpass expectations.
Check out the video for the Groot robot below: