Apr 11, 2017 I Brett Tingley

Disney Files Patent for Creepy ‘Soft Humanoid Robots’

The Orlando Sentinel  is reporting that Disney has filed a patent application for “soft humanoid robots “designed for reducing collision impacts during human interaction.” Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s Disney, right? What could go wrong? Well, according to the patent filing, a lot:

The inventors recognized that there was a need for robots that can safely interact with humans and, particularly, with children. To physically interact with children, the inventors understood that the robot should be soft and durable. [...] However, it has proven difficult to provide wholly safe interactions between humans and robots simply by operating these humanoid and other robots with controlled movements.

Wait, what? Where have these Disney Imagineers been living? Don’t they watch Westworld? Or The Simpsons? We all know robots exist for one reason and one reason only: to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

One day, that glass of water will be a two-year-old's terrified face.

According to theme park writer Jim Hill, the dream of having a park full of autonomous terrifying robotic creatures is nothing new to Disney, who have had robots inhabiting their parks for decades:

It’s hard to know why Disney decides to file for a patent, but they have been looking at soft-body robots since ‘Big Hero.’ Disney is still terrified that even with this soft technology, a robot could accidentally harm a child. They do a lot of testing.

Ok, sure. Testing is one thing, but a creepy 7-foot-tall Baymax robot putting his arms around your toddler is another.

Looks pretty cuddly to me. Until the skull-crusher grip is added in version 2.1, that is.

Disney doesn’t exactly have a perfect track record with its animatronics, either. Their robotic abominations malfunction or break more often than the smiling, dancing people in mouse suits might have you think.


Well, if we’re going to be taken over by robots (which some of our best scientific minds claim is inevitable and possibly coming sooner than we think), they might as well be soft, cuddly Disney characters. Sure, an unstoppable robot might soon crush your skull in its cold, metal hands, but at least you’ll have a nice smiling mouse face as the last thing you ever see.


"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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