Disney Just Revealed A Roller-Blading Robot At SXSW 2023

Austin-based technology, business, and arts conference South By Southwest (SXSW) is one of the tech world's favorite places to debut products and ideas. Over the years, SXSW has hosted everything from new trailers for EV owners to NASA panels on space science to Nokia's giant human-sized hamster wheel.

As of March 10, the 2023 conference has just begun, but it's on track to maintain its record for exciting, sometimes whimsical debuts and demonstrations. Imagineers from Disney Parks made a presentation on what visitors can expect from Disney's theme parks in coming years.

Disney gave the SXSW audiences a truly innovative show worthy of its moniker as the "happiest place on Earth." And perhaps the most exciting innovation on display was a self-propelled human-esque (or at least Disney-character-shaped) robot. This innovation in animatronics is one of several, promising park guests a more immersive experience than ever before. Here's what we know.

The future is animated

Per Disney Parks, the Imagineers team, led by Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D'Amaro, arrived in Austin intending "to showcase the innovation that goes into Disney storytelling."

To that end, they certainly came to play. First and foremost, the robot, modeled after Judy Hopps of "Zootopia," showed off dynamic movement across multiple surfaces on a pair of rollerblades, even righting herself after a scripted tumble.

Alongside the rolling robot, Disney Parks showed off lightsabers, new character models with high-level conversational interaction, and even an exoskeleton allowing performers to play larger-than-life fan favorites like the Hulk with greater immersion than ever before.

The only thing the Disney Parks presentation lacked was a definitive release date for the innovations on stage. Based on the robot's Hoppsian design, it may be slated to debut with the Zootopia-themed expansion at Shanghai Disney, which per TDR Explorer is expected to open later this year. No word yet on when Hulk and Tinkerbell will be revealed to excited — or, if Gizmodo is to be believed, terrified — Disney park visitors.