Disney to Develop Humanoid Robots

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. deformable / dɪˈfɔrm ə bəl / (adj) – can be changed in form

    The robot has deformable arms and legs.

  2. feasibility / ˌfi zəˈbɪl ɪ ti / (n) – the state or possibility of something being achieved

    We are still confirming the feasibility of creating a new product.

  3. autonomously / ɔˈtɒn ə məsli / (adv) – with the ability to act or operate independently

    New devices can operate autonomously.

  4. inevitable / ɪnˈɛvɪtəbəl / (adj) – certain to happen

    Human interaction is inevitable.

  5. irreparable / ɪˈrɛp ər ə bəl / (adj) – can no longer be fixed

    The technician said my laptop is irreparable.


Read the text below.

Disney has applied for a patent to develop robots that can interact with humans.

Because these robots will mostly be interacting with children, they are designed to be soft and deformable. Nevertheless, a strong built-in material, which will function as a support, will be integrated into the robots for safety purposes.

The images included in the application show resemblance to Baymax, a character from the movie Big Hero 6. However, Disney did not confirm if the robot is patterned to a specific character.

The project’s feasibility remains up for confirmation. Also, Disney has yet to confirm if it will introduce these humanoid robots in its theme parks.

Jon Snoddy, Disney’s senior vice president for research and development, believes that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are essential in the business. He added that the robots would eventually need to learn how the human world operates. However, no confirmation was made if the robots are going to be controlled by humans or if they will operate autonomously.

Various industries such as healthcare and retail have used robots to improve the services they provide to their clients.

Dr. Julie Carpenter, an expert in human-robot social interaction, pointed out that emotional attachment is inevitable. However, it has advantages and disadvantages. Emotional attachment would mean trust and confidence both in the robot and the service offered by a company. On the other hand, a person who has become too attached could feel terrible loss when the robot malfunctions and becomes irreparable.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think developing a robot for physical human interaction is a good idea? Why or why not?
• How do you think parents and children will react to this invention?

Discussion B

• In your opinion, is it possible to get emotionally attached to a human-like robot? Why or why not?
• Do you think robots can be trusted? Why or why not?