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orangekid13
03-03-2007, 12:11 AM
I just found a story online about a roaming Bunsen & Beaker on what looks like a highly modified Segway skeleton in MGM...
how new are they?

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-disney2mar02,0,3107781.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Dznefreek
03-03-2007, 07:27 AM
Yes it does, yes they are, and I believe that is DCA.

These wireless robots try not to act remote
The audio-animatronic Muppets roam a Disney theme park "seeing" and "talking" to visitors.
By Kimi Yoshino, Times Staff Writer
March 2, 2007


Watch out, Mickey Mouse. The Muppets may be sneaking up on you.

Walt Disney Imagineering this week debuted its latest, cutting-edge creation: free-roaming, interacting audio-animatronic Muppets capable of "seeing" and "talking" to tourists — and without a human puppeteer in sight.

Disney's most advanced robotic creation to date makes the costumed, mute Winnie the Poohs and Donald Ducks seem like felt-covered relics, though Disney executives are quick to reassure that the beloved, autograph-signing cast isn't going anywhere.

"This is an incredibly compelling and powerful way to experience the characters," said Bruce Vaughn, vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering's research and development division.

"They are fully aware of the people in their presence and can call you by name. It is a 100% live experience."

The technology is vastly more sophisticated than Disney's first venture into audio-animatronics with the Enchanted Tiki Room birds in 1963 and Mr. Lincoln in 1964.

In their first appearances at Disney's California Adventure this week, bumbling scientist Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his meep-meeping sidekick Beaker joked and chatted with guests. The Muppets could see the color of the clothes the kids wore and the lollipops they licked — casting a slight Big Brother vibe over the proceedings. They maneuvered in a silver, egg-shaped roving laboratory outfitted with flashing lights, spinning signs, confetti cannons and smoke and water sprayers.

"That's amazing!" said Adam Young, 27, a tourist from Canada.

As Beaker and Honeydew encouraged people to do the hokeypokey, Young scanned the park, high and low. He twisted around, his eyes darting in search of the human manning the controls. "I'm trying to figure out who was driving it. It's crazy."

One boy walked away with this question: "Do you think there's someone down there talking, Dad?" His father shrugged.

Never wanting to divulge their secrets, Imagineers waved it off as "Disney magic" and "pixie dust." In reality, a live puppeteer who can see and hear everything reacts from afar.

The Muppet Mobile Laboratory will be roaming the streets of California Adventure through Sunday, before it heads back to the shop for more tweaking.

During this week's initial testing phase, a team of Disney techs and Dave Goelz, the original voice of Muppet characters such as Dr. Honeydew and Gonzo, were behind the scenes in Anaheim. The goal is for one person to operate the characters from as far away as Glendale, the headquarters of Walt Disney Imagineering, the theme park design and development arm of Walt Disney Co.

Through its Living Character Initiative, Disney is trying to improve interaction between characters and YouTube-watching, Nintendo Wii-playing guests. In 2005, the company introduced "Turtle Talk With Crush," a real-time animated show that allows the "Finding Nemo" character to chat with fans.

In 2003, Disney scientists and engineers built Lucky, a 20-foot- long dinosaur that could smile, grunt and burp. It was the first time an audio-animatronics creation was unleashed into the park, instead of tethered to an attraction, such as the swashbucklers in Pirates of the Caribbean. Lucky has since gone into hibernation.

Dr. Honeydew and Beaker, which were purchased along with the rest of the Muppets in 2004 from Jim Henson Co., can be removed from their roving lab and put into theater chairs, on rides, or in any other setting. No nearby operator is necessary.

The portable, wireless technology also allows Disney to bring to life nontraditional characters. Most of the Muppets, for example, are too small to be portrayed by a human in costume.

Disney is considering using the technology to bring other characters, including those from Pixar movies, to its parks.

"With prior audio-animatronics, you see the figure standing, but there's a huge infrastructure backstage and all sorts of machines," Vaughn said.

"I think what you'll ultimately see is a lot of characters that we haven't been able to deliver before."

sjwatsi
03-03-2007, 05:07 PM
I love these, so I hope theres going to be more coming in over the years. Particularly for my visit next year.. :) I imagine that these will go over really well with children, and can add a number of little surprises etc.

So who do you thinks going to be coming next. I know they mentioned Pixar in the article (due to a lot of the characters being hard to accomplish otherwise), so who do you think is being considered?? Probably Nemo at some point.. :rotfl:

Maybe WALL-E from the film coming out next year (it looks to be a small robot character), or otherwise a moving\talking Mike from Monsters Inc to go on greetings with Sully (I haven't ever seen Mike other than on parades..?) or also from Monsters Inc they could do Boo.

But I'd love to see the classics come out onto the streets at some point, those that have never been greeting characters before such as Bambi or Dumbo.

So what to people think? Will we see more, and if so whom?

(ps. sorry if this appears twice or so, I have a really dodgy connection at present).

emlutz23
03-03-2007, 07:55 PM
That technology is amazing! We saw something similar, but not quite as sophisticated, in Tomorrowland at the MK. There was a talking garbage can moving and talking with the crowd. I had never seen it there before. We're headed out to DL next year, so I hope Beaker is still there!

2Xited4Disney
03-04-2007, 12:47 PM
Maybe WALL-E from the film coming out next year (it looks to be a small robot character), or otherwise a moving\talking Mike from Monsters Inc to go on greetings with Sully (I haven't ever seen Mike other than on parades..?) or also from Monsters Inc they could do Boo.

.

The second I read about WALL-E I thought that eventually Disney would introduce him as a living anamatronic in Tomorrowland. He could easily be trying to pick up trash and preform in some type of interaction with guests

MJMcBride
03-04-2007, 01:31 PM
I look forward to more Muppets stuff. They always made me laugh.

TheDogbots
03-04-2007, 02:46 PM
quick note, mike is usually with sully at MGM, so I don't know if they would really want to make a talking version of a character that people know does not talk.

The trashcan is fun, it is almost always the same guy running it when i see it even when it is over in AK. I used to like playing "spot the operator" but it got a little too easy when i realized it was usually the same guy lol.

This is something to look forward to, its like they are actually spending money on something other than renaming old attractions! lol...

sjwatsi
03-04-2007, 06:24 PM
quick note, mike is usually with sully at MGM, so I don't know if they would really want to make a talking version of a character that people know does not talk.

Cool. I'd never seen Mike in the parks other than on a parade so I didn't know this. And that is a good point. So scratch that idea :lmao:

TheDogbots
03-04-2007, 08:37 PM
if you are looking for the location, i am not sure what it is called but its like a garage door alcove area in the back of the building that the entrance to the Sci-Fi Drive In faces. if you are walking out of the Sci-fi turn to your left, and it will be along your right hand side. I wish i had better directions for you, maybe someone else will.