Disney has been ahead of the curve when it comes to robotics since the 1960s when they first placed animatronic attractions in their theme parks. While those older attractions might seem a bit outdated in the modern world, they were once centerpieces of the technological prowess of the family-focused Disney experience. Disney has once again proven that they are an industry leader in the field of robotics with their newest animatronic addition, which is a rendition of a Na’vi shaman from the popular Avatar franchise.
Disney opened Pandora: World of Avatar at the end of May, and it is located in the Animal Kingdom park as part of the main attractions of the location. The entire area is themed after Avatar, and while it has only been accessible by the public for a few weeks, it has already attracted a lot of attention. In particular, the Na’vi River Journey ride offers an experience unlike any other in the world of animatronics. As the ride comes to an end, riders will be greeted with an incredibly lifelike robotic Na’vi shaman that dances and chants with the realism of a living creature. There is no doubt this piece of technology represents one of the most, if not the most, advanced animatronic creations ever conceived.
A look under the artificial blue skin of the robotic figure reveals an exceptionally intricate animatronic skeleton with many, many points of motion and control. To look at the robotic skull in action is to see technology that would have seemed to be nothing more than science fiction even just ten years ago. Disney plans to incorporate more of these animatronic figures into their attractions, and there are even rumors that they are considering fully autonomous figures that could move and act independently of any robotic foundation or direct human control.