After winning the Best Animated Movie in the Oscars and becoming the third-highest-grossing animated film in America, it's clear that people love Baymax and "Big Hero 6." And what's not to like? The main robot had an appealing style that's practical yet huggable. Now, the robotics team that inspired Baymax wants to make a real life Baymax.
Chris Atkeson is a professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics University. He's been working with a team to develop a "soft robot" since 2011. Why? According to Atkeson, a soft robot would be better suited for serving the needs of elderly patients. As the median age of Americans slowly increases, medical care robots will become necessary to keep up with demand. However, elderly patients tend to be frailer and more prone to injury. That's why it's important that medical robots not have too many hard edges or surfaces, lest they bruise the patients.
Unlike Baymax, Atkeson's robots don't have a heavy support skeleton underneath all the padding. Instead, the robots will use a pneumatic system made of fabrics, balloons, light limbs and pneumatic artificial muscles to move, support and function. Such robots would not only be safer, but they would be cheaper to maintain and develop as well. The soft robot exterior could also be used to create wearables and support devices, such as an inflatable cast that would provide support while letting wearers to use their wrist.
Atkeson's team played a big part in the film's development of the on-screen Baymax. Not only did it explain the science behind the robot, but it also helped make sure that Baymax made visual sense. Last November, the team tried to run a campaign to get the funding for a fully functional version of Baymax. However, the campaign was unsuccessful.
Atkeson told Gizmag that the team hoped to release a toy version of the soft robot in the near future for Baymax fans.