Guests to the new Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure can look to the sky and catch a glimpse of one of the newest pieces of technology to come from Walt Disney Imagineering, dubbed “Stuntronics.”

What’s Happening:

  • One of the immediate favorites of the new Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure is a short show where Spider-Man soars through the skies above the new W.E.B. Slingers attraction. Thanks to the Los Angeles Times, we got a bit of a closer look at some of the technology that brings this experience to life.
  • For years, Tony Dohi, principal research and development Imagineer at Walt Disney Imagineering and his team had been hard at work on a robotic Spider-Man stunt double that can perform stunning acrobatic displays while soaring more than 65 feet in the air, no strings — or webs — attached.
  • This remarkable feat is enabled by “Stuntronics'' technology. The team designed a sophisticated robot that uses onboard sensors to make its own real-time decisions when to tuck, somersault and slow down its spin. There is a lot of math and physics involved, and the team has a published paper and patent related to the technology.
  • Guests can see the sophisticated robot launch across the sky as soon as they enter the new land, in an innovative character meet and greet some Imagineers are calling a “Robot Sandwich.” One live actor performs small stunts and flips on the building before disappearing backstage when the switch is made and a robot-Spidey gets shot into the sky. After he “lands,” an actor reappears and descends down the building for a meet and greet featuring everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood superhero.
  • Tom Holland can be heard reprising his role as Spider-Man, providing the vocals for both the human actors and the robot stunt performer, giving the authenticity of the character. Another way to perfect an imperfect kid superhero? Make sure the Stunttronic doesn’t look perfect. Creative Executive Dan Fields says “He’s a teenager with some hubris, so for him to not nail it – to not always be in control of his body was good engineering.” Dohi added, “That was very liberating…because we didn’t have to focus on making sure the figure was in the right plane and the right orientation as it’s landing. We had to reframe our entire thinking of what does Spider-Man out of control look like as he’s flying through the air.”
  • Never worry about robot-Spidey sticking the landing though. After it is launched into the sky, it lands in a giant net out of sight and that human Spidey performer takes over the rest of the short show.

What They’re Saying:

  • Tony Dohi, Principal Research and Development, Walt Disney Imagineering: “When we had our first brainstorm session on this, it was one of those moments that you live for as an Imagineer. This is a very ambitious meet and greet, I must say. Unlike anything else. The aerial acrobatic robot was just one piece of this thing. It needed the bookends. It needed to have the context that Dan [Field’s] story provided for, and it solved some technical challenges…It opened the opportunity then too to ask ‘Well, how high can we throw this thing now?’ Could we deliver on this moment that would be spectacular…something that would be superhuman. That was the challenge. I can’t express how fun that is…. It’s the furthest thing from work. You can’t believe that you’ve got this job…. Designing and throwing robots around. This is something that we could never do with a human performer. Our intentions were never to replace a human performer. They were actually to do something that we would never dream to do with a human performer. Now, that said, you can also break a robot. And so, the way that we decelerate that robot was a critical part of the development of this. …Nothing we build is precious in that we couldn’t risk destroying it to learn something. The Spider-Man character, it gave us an opportunity to really stretch out. He sails through skyscrapers, so we can’t be content with some short, low throw. We really want to see how far we can sling this guy.”
  • Dan Fields, Creative Executive, Live Entertainment: “We made certain vows that a guest could not walk through Avengers Campus without seeing some heroes. Which seems really basic, but…there are different frequencies of characters that appear in different parts of the park. …The promise that we wanted to make was that we would overwhelm the guest experience because…it’s a living breathing place that’s happening here and now. When we were conceiving of Avengers Campus, we knew that we wanted to push ourselves to allow our guests to interact with and see Spider-Man in more iconic ways. There are limitations to what you can do with a human body in an outdoor setting, wearing a full face mask, and to make that really authentic and believable – not just for a 7-year-old but for anybody who’s watching it. But we knew how critical that was for the guest experience of the most popular hero.”

You can watch our video of Spidey soarin’ through the skies above Disney California Adventure below!

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