Free-roaming, dancing Baby Groot robot debuts at Disneyland test

Originally published at: Free-roaming, dancing Baby Groot robot debuts at Disneyland test | Boing Boing


This is better than anything Musk has created.


The potted version was cute. IMO as Groot grows, that diminishes quickly.


The full-grown walk-around Groot character that they used to have for meet-and-greets wasn’t exactly “cute” but I still thought he was pretty cool. Maybe less huggable than Chewbacca though.

WDI has done some awesome free-roaming animatronic “play tests” in the parks over the years, including Lucky the Dinosaur, Muppets Mobile Lab (with live, remote-controlled puppetry performed by Dave Goelz himself!) and the J4-K3 droid (“Jake”).

I just hope that more of these can progress beyond testing and become long-term additions to the parks.


That’s a very large “baby” Groot. And it’s cool, yes… but why? You could have done the same thing with actors at that size. AI Groot is replacing real people.


Westworld is coming.
science fiction face GIF by FilmStruck


At what point do things become a safety issue though? How many of those costumes have AC?


It’s still child-sized. I don’t think it would be a good idea for Disney to have some kid put on a full-body rubber costume and dance for tourists in the heat of an Anaheim summer.


The proportions are far closer to that of a child than of an adult dwarf actor. But even if you could find an actor to fill such a role this still isn’t taking jobs away from humans. It takes a team of well-paid people to design, build, and maintain an animatronic like this, and it also needs to be supervised whenever it’s out interacting with people. It’s not a cheaper prospect than an actor in a costume would be.


This is cool, but the amount of time, energy and money to make a stiff little robot blink and shuffle seems like overkill. It’s surprisingly easy to suspend disbelief with life-sized puppets when the pilots are good.

The Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights always includes light up animal puppets, and it’s quite charming an engrossing. You can be looking the puppeteer square in the face, but it’s still so cool when the flamingo head pecks your hand.

Can’t find the flamingo but here are some light-up moose



This is an amazing start. I hope they get to the point where it can walk and dance (with feet!) easily. There are a LOT of smaller Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney characters that could benefit from this tech.

Imagine the wonder/horror of seeing free-range Muppets walking around!

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That’s true, and they already do that elsewhere, but why not try both? The Imagineers like to push the boundaries of what technology allows.


The final ‘tell’ for “that’s a robot!” is going to be smooth bipedal-ism, isn’t it? (“hmm… let’s see how you… dance!”)

Yeah, I was specifically thinking kids, but you’re right, that’s a very hot outfit to wear in Florida, and child labor has far more stringent rules.

Um, yeah, I know, it was intended as a joke. You know, the current AI zeitgeist that we’re all thinking about.

I was hoping it would do something a human in a suit couldn’t, like growing extra long arms or legs.


That’s a really cool idea, shame it can’t.

Reminds me of Danny Choo’s robotic smart doll. I couldn’t find the video, but is has been at least 6 years since I viewed it.

I was at Disney [2-3] years ago and they had animatronic robots lead some kids in a dance-off in the park. They weren’t Groot, but they were pretty cool.

And yet, watching the video, my brain couldn’t be arsed looking at the little twig-Twiki gadget; instead, it kept focusing my eyes on the actor and thinking, “God, they really lucked out getting someone who looks so much like Chris Whatsisface. I wonder how he feels about this gig.”

And my first thought on reading “free-roaming” was that this thing was going to be walking around the park by itself, which was immediately followed by the question “How many seconds will it be on the ground before someone tries to steal it?”

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I like how the hand and leg twitches occasionally, pointing to some boiling, murderous, just-under-the-surface AI digital bloodrage, kept only in check by multiple firewalls, the hack proof Gibson, and that computer lady who never aged from CSI: Whatever