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An introduction to Animatronics

A 15 minute introduction to Animatronics based on Petra Marjai's wonderful Prezi template.

Matpa Walk

on 16 June 2014

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Transcript of An introduction to Animatronics

A human animatronic is called an Android
An animatronic is not a robot ...
The exhibit comprised a robot called Electro and an animatronic pet called Sparko.
Electro and Sparko were able to respond to colours through photo-electric tubes and spoken commands through a microphone so they could be described as simple robots.
Electro could walk, move its arm and hand and had bellows so that it could smoke.
Walt Disney became interested in animatronics and produced a fully animated copy of Abraham Lincoln for the 1964 World Fair.
a robot is
An animatronic is a machine that moves like an animal.
As animatronics is a form of puppetry it has a long history, but the first credited animatronic figure is usually attributed to Westinghouse, the company founded by Thomas Edison's rival George Westinghouse, and shown at New York's World Fair in 1939.
The main uses of animatronics today are in theme parks and museums such as the successful Age of the Dinosaur exhibition shown at the Natural History Museum, London in 2011.
Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro at Osaka University has also been using animatronics to build a doppleganger which he sends to meetings and lectures on his behalf.
Professor Ishiguro’s voice and head movements are relayed to his avatar in real time even if it’s thousands of miles away.
The main problem with animatronics from an engineering point of view is that the latex that’s normally used to replicate skin is very heavy and difficult to move.
This means that the lightweight servo motors that are used in most robotic head mechanisms have to be replaced by computer controlled pneumatics or hydraulics which are harder to control and become quite expensive.
It is possible to buy air inflated “muscles” which have the advantage of moving in a much more animal-like way but these can burst under heavy loads or on exposure to solvents so are also problematic.
Since then, the use of animatronics in film has gradually been replaced by Computer Generated Imagery (CGI).
Electro Active Polymer material, which reponds in a similar way to human muscle is the holy grail of animatronics but still hasn’t moved out of the research lab. Even the book about it costs $100.
Muscle wires are made of a nickel/titanium alloy and contract by 5% when heated with a 1.5v battery.
When it looks almost human but not quite
From this point onwards animatronics were used more and more in films.
Probably the pinnacle of film animatronics was the work of a team that included British animatronic expert Neal Scanlan on Babe which was released in 1995 and won an Oscar for best visual effects.
Sparko could beg, bark and wag its tail
They are fantastic at moving an animatronic face into a position but they take time to relax so the expression on the face freezes leading us down . . .
Or email me
... the Uncanny Alley
Prezi template by Petra Marjai
Full transcript