Disney Research Designs Augmented Reality System for Robot Control

When we find ourselves wondering what new technology will be making its way into Disney parks in the future, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on the scientists at Disney Research. A paper published by the group today may give us a glimpse at the future of robotic interactions that guests may come across at Disney. The paper, titled "Augmented Reality Dialog Interface for Multimodal Teleoperation" describes Disney Research's design of an interface that would allow a single operator to control both a robot's verbal and nonverbal actions, or let two operators control the same robot. The dialogue interface utilizes augmented reality to help immerse the operator in their role and help them better perform their operations of the robot. This is just the most recent Disney Research paper to feature augmented reality; they revealed their Magic Bench project late last July. To test their design, Disney Research set up scenarios where operators using the interface had to control a robot that was interacting with a customer in a menu/ordering scenario. These tests gauged the efficiency of the system as well as the differences between a single operator and two operators. Disney Research concluded that scenarios where a quick response time was needed, or when there wasn't a large need to communicate between the verbal and nonverbal actions of the robot, two controllers may be optimal. When there was a need for verbal and nonverbal actions to be coordinated together, however, a single operator would be ideal. The most important attribute to the single-operator style might be the level of immersion the controller experiences. The augmented reality feedback gives an operator a heightened sense of "presence", helping them feel as if they are in the room with the customer/guest and interacting with them directly. This allows for a more realistic interaction, as the operator's motions and verbal actions take on more natural responses. As robots become an increasing part of the Disney animatronic experience, you could find yourself interacting with a cast member using this exact interface at some point in the near future. Keep checking in with us for future glimpses at what Disney technology is being developed for possible parks and entertainment use. Source/Image: Disney Research