People are often surprised to learn that many of the most capable and high-tech robots are kept in cages away from humans. This isn’t because the machines are out to get us. Many machines are dangerous because they simply lack self-awareness and the ability to understand their surroundings.

This is why, up until recently, robots haven’t been able to work side-by-side with people in industrial settings. Baxter by Rethink Robotics, however, is an example of a machine that can work with people. The robot has eyes on a screen to show where the machine is “looking” to signal its next task.

Now, a team of Disney researchers are building a cute and agile robot named Jimmy to safely (and adorably) interact with people.

A cute robot

The robot has rounded balls for hands and can do things like gently touch a child’s face, pick up a stuffed animal, crack an egg, play patty-cake, and clap—and Jimmy looks friendly while doing so.

Jimmy’s movements are powered by an actuator the team is building that uses tubes filled with water and air to propel the movement.

The current version of the robot does not move autonomously and relies on a person remotely controlling its movements (like a puppeteer that stands behind the scenes). In the future, however, the technology may be more autonomous.

Here’s a more in depth look at Jimmy in action:

We’ll have to stay tuned to see where the technology goes and how Disney plans to put Jimmy to work. But for now, it’s an exciting beginning.


Image credit:  DisneyResearchHub/YoutubeHarrisHoffman/Imgur

Alison tells the stories of purpose-driven leaders and is fascinated by various intersections of technology and society. When not keeping a finger on the pulse of all things Singularity University, you'll likely find Alison in the woods sipping coffee and reading philosophy (new book recommendations are welcome).

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