Disney is designing a Baymax robot that can cuddle

Justin Mahboubian-Jones
Photo credit: Disney

From Digital Spy

It was only a matter of time before someone or something attempted to make a real-world Baymax. Who doesn't want a robo-cuddle? No-one? Thought not.

Disney - the all-powerful owner of Star Wars and Marvel - has filed a patent for a real-world robot which sounds, and looks, uncannily like the mechanised star of Big Hero 6.

The patent in question is called "Soft body robot for physical interaction with humans" and makes reference to a machine which has a "rigid support" beneath a softer outer segment.

"The robot includes a robot controller including a joint control module," reads the patent. "The robot includes a link including a rigid support element and a soft body segment coupled to the rigid support element, and the body segment includes a deformable outer sidewall enclosing an interior space."

Hard on the inside, squidgy on the outside, an interior space. Sound familiar?

As if that wasn't convincing enough, two of the diagrams relating to the patent are a dead giveaway.

Photo credit: Disney

The robot is designed to be "adapted for soft contact", meaning that in addition to featuring soft limbs, it also knows when not to apply pressure. "Where physical human and robot interaction is expected, it often is desirable for the robot's joints and body parts to be compliant and yielding to avoid injury and damage, " reads the patent.

The patent also mentions that this is a desirable condition for robots interacting with children. We agree. Nothing is more likely to get a series of robots commissioned than a child-squeezing spree that ends in hospitalised infants. You can send those bots to the scrapheap before you can say Skynet.

It's entirely fitting that the company to follow through on that fantasy is Disney, having created the 2014 animated feature which brought the lumbering bot into existence.

The patent was filed on February 19, 2016, just over a year ago, and as with all patents, may come to absolutely nothing. Regardless, we can think of few better ambassadors for the coming race of robots who may, or may not, destroy us all, than cuddly Baymax.

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