Updated: Aug 9, 2020
Animatronics refers to the mechatronic creatures. They are the modern substitute of the automation technology. Before the term "animatronics" became familiar, they were normally specified by the term "robots". Since then, robots have become more practically programmable machines that are not importantly resemble with living creatures. Robots or other artificial beings designed to efficiently resemble to humans are termed as "androids".
Animatronics and Artificial intelligence
The fusion or amalgam of animatronics with artificial intelligence results in the androids that usually mimic human behavior. Now there is a technique that is capable to provide the behavior and appearance of living beings to machines or humanizing robots called artificial intelligence. The Disney company is ready to operate animatronics and artificial intelligence to produce one of their characters in real life: Pascal, one of the casts in the movie Tangles.
How Animatronics designed?
Animatronics is a multi-disciplinary field that accommodates anatomy mechatronics along with artificial intelligence technology. Animatronic character can be designed by using both human control and computer control. Motion activators are generally used to simulate muscle movements and to develop real motions inside their limbs.
Their body is usually wrapped with shells around body and adaptable skins made up with the combination of hard and soft plastic materials and finished with details like colors, hair and feathers etc. to make them to look more realistic. The word Audio-Animatronics was first put by Walt Disney in 1961 when he started developing animatronics for the entertainment and film purpose.
Audio-Animatronics does not differ between animatronics and androids. Autonomatronics was also described by Disney Imagineers, to describe a more advanced Audio-Animatronic technology featuring cameras and complex sensors are used in order to process information around the character's environment and hence can respond to that stimulus.
Designing of Animatronics
An animatronics character is constructed with an internal frame which is usually made of steel. Attached to bones are the muscles which are commonly designed by the use of elastic netting consists of styrene beads. The frame used provides the support for the mechanical and electronic components and also providing the shape to its outer skin.
The skin of the character is often made of the silicone or foam rubber poured into the moulds. To provide better amount of strength a piece of fabric is cut and embedded into the foam rubber when it is poured in the mould. At the time when the mould has fully cured, each piece is separated and attached to the exterior of the character providing the texture and appearance same as that of skin.
Structure of Animatronics
A character of animatronics is typically designed to look as realistic as it may possible and hence it is made similar to how it would be in real life. The framework of the character is like the skeleton. Joints, motors, and actuators are similar as the muscles. Connection of all the electrical components together as wires like the nervous system of a person.
Training and education
Animatronics has been developing as a career which includes the field like mechanical engineering, sculpting, radio control, electrical or electronic systems and airbrushing etc. Person interested in animatronics cam earn a degree in robotics that is almost related to the specializations required in animatronics engineering.
Students achieving a bachelor's degree in robotics commonly complete courses in:
Modeling of robotics systems
Foundational theory of robotics
Introduction to robotics