Disney Research Project Uses Humans to Create Robot Clones [VIDEO]

Posted by · August 14, 2012 11:31 am

Call it what you will—scary, creepy, or maybe awesome—but the research team at Disney tapped into something quite fascinating this week. In an ongoing project that focuses on facial cloning technology, the team at Disney Research has found a method that will allow it to successfully clone human beings into silicon-skinned, animatronic beings.

Here’s how they did it.

Using 3D cameras to capture the expressions of the human face, the technology then analyzes the physical composition of the human face in order to render a silicon-based, artificial skin that allows the animatronic clone to realistically mimic the same facial expressions. Posting the results of its research (PDF) on the Disney Research website, the team offered the following summary of its Physical Face Cloning project:

We propose a complete process for designing, simulating, and fabricating synthetic skin for an animatronics character that mimics the face of a given subject and its expressions. The process starts with measuring the elastic properties of a material used to manufacture synthetic soft tissue. Given these measurements we use physics-based simulation to predict the behavior of a face when it is driven by the underlying robotic actuation. Next, we capture 3D facial expressions for a given target subject. As the key component of our process, we present a novel optimization scheme that determines the shape of the synthetic skin as well as the actuation parameters that provide the best match to the target expressions. We demonstrate this computational skin design by physically cloning a real human face onto an animatronics figure.

It goes without saying that such strides made at Disney Research marks a critical milestone in the robot quest for global domination, not to mention our own strange obsession with cheating death.

“I can imagine this used in the near future for the development of androids that would be able to express themselves with facial movements, just like humans do,” writes Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz. “Add some artificial intelligence or some brain downloading and boom, instant immortality. Or Futurama-style talking heads. It can go either way.”

In the meantime, though, I can’t help but hope that the nightmare-causing robot dolls on “It’s A Small World” at Disneyland will be receiving a facelift sometime soon.

For more on Disney Research’s robot clone project…