Walt Disney’s Imagineers Reveal a Mobile Animatronic Baby Groot

Baby Groot melted the hearts of many fans when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hit theaters in 2017. And thanks to the revolutionary work of Disney’s Imagineers, he might be doing the same for theme park guests in the not-too-distant future. Over the last few years, the studio’s mechanical wizards have been toiling away on a bipedal animatronic technology that brings beloved characters to life in robot form. Now, the team has given an update on their progress with a new video that shows their latest animatronic creation, which just so happens to be modeled after Baby Groot.

TechCruch recently caught up with Disney’s Imagineering team to get a better idea of how the animatronic works. Developed under the name of Project Kiwi, Imagineers began working on this technology in 2018. They started out by building a custom skeleton big enough to house all of the moving parts inside. The team also wanted to keep its shape distinctly human so they could dress it up as “any number” of fan-favorite Disney characters. Clearly, the Imagineers put a lot of effort into their Groot design, which stands at roughly two-and-a-half feet tall. Baby Groot is dressed in a Ravager’s flight suit, and his tree-like hide is also impressively detailed. Plus, he’s able to walk around freely and wave at visitors in the park. And of course, it wouldn’t be Groot if he didn’t dance.

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“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,” said R&D Imagineer Principal LaValley. “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.”

One of the animatronic’s most impressive features is that it emits very little mechanical noise. This makes it easier for audio to play out of an onboard speaker. The robot would certainly give fans yet another reason to visit Disneyland’s Avengers Campus, which finally opens in June. Regardless, Project Kiwi’s technology is still a work in progress.

For now, the Groot animatronic has only 45 minutes of battery life. Imagineers are also developing a “lighter and more efficient” skeletal design. So if the robot is meant to make an appearance at the park, we won’t be seeing it there for a while. You can watch footage of the Imagineers’ Baby Groot in action below.

Are you hoping to see the animatronic in person someday? Tell us what you think in the comment section!

Recommended Reading: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1: The Final Gauntlet

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