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WDI exoskeleton technology brings biggest Disney characters to life

Walt Disney Imagineering is creating innovative costuming technology that could bring huge characters like the Hulk to Disney parks.

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Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) is creating a full-body exoskeleton system, part of Project Exo, to bring Disney’s biggest characters, such as the Incredible Hulk and Thanos, to life.

WDI shared a video of R&D Imagineer Jonathan Becker and research engineer Richard-Alexandre Peloquin in the “early development stages of engineering new ways to bring large-scale characters to life”.

Project Exo has been in development for approximately two years, CNBC reports. Disney is yet to confirm which characters are being designed for its theme parks.

However, characters in the video could be James P. Sullivan from Monsters, Inc., Thanos and the Incredible Hulk from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Groot, and a Wampa from Star Wars.

Disney’s Project Exo in development

Leslie Evans, Disney’s chief Imagineer, said “having these gigantic characters that guests are going to be able to see from a far way away” is “a really exciting prospect”.

“One of the things that is so exciting about a project like this is that characters are a big way that we bring our lands to life,” Evans said.

Disney Imagineers have also designed a robot Spider-Man called Stuntronics that can be seen flying through the air at Disneyland’s Avengers Campus.

Earlier this year, WDI unveiled an animatronic Baby Groot, which is part of Project Kiwi. The opposite of Project Exo, Project Kiwi was formed to create tiny, free-roaming robots for Disney parks.

Baby Groot is part of Project Kiwi

Project Kiwi is nearly in the ‘play test’ phase, which means Imagineers will take the Baby Groot bot to interact with visitors at theme parks and gather feedback.

“We continue to create believable worlds and bring characters, both big and small, to life in new and exciting ways,” said Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney parks, experiences and products.  

He added: “Everything we do is in service of innovation and providing our guests a next-level immersive experience.”

Earlier this month, Disney released new footage of some of WDI’s most innovative offerings, including a realistic, retractable lightsaber. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser guests will be the first to enjoy lightsaber training when it launches in 2022.

Images: Disney

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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