A robotic Abraham Lincoln has successfully given us the heebie-jeebies, with the animatronic Honest Abe possessing uncannily realistic facial expressions that serve as both nightmare fuel and a glimpse into what our future AI overlords will probably look like.
The robotic Lincoln was developed by Walt Disney World’s Animatronics, with it utilizing “theme park quality construction” in order to create a lifelike representation of the 16th president of the United States. The end result is an animatronic Abe who is capable of displaying a variety of expressions, while its silicon skin wrinkling up in 40 unique motions.
The Lincoln robot will be a part of the “Living Faces of History” exhibition, spearheaded by company founder Garner Holt. In a blog post, Holt wrote:
“The animatronic Lincoln bust we showcased at our open house represents the current state of the art in mechanical animation. It’s also the first in a new line of super-expressive animatronic products we’re calling “The Living Faces of History,” which we will market not only to our traditional theme park clients but to museums and cultural centers as a means of bringing cutting-edge technology into alternative narrative-driven locations. Something I’ve seen time and time again in attractions and exhibits is people lose interest in reading explanatory tags pretty quickly, and even videos lose interest after a minute or two in most settings.
But people always listen and watch animatronics—they’re visually appealing, have a sense of magic to them, and, when done properly, provide an illusion of life that compels audiences to pay attention (with 30-50 functions in each face, the level of lifelike realism will, I think, be totally immersive). Our new venture will include historic personalities like Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, and many others—in fact, infinitely more as the expressive animatronic head platform we’ve created can be adapted to any person’s face. We can even digitally scan the faces of people living today to create animatronic characters based on specific individuals, as we did with Samuel Morrison of the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.”
Disney has previously used incredibly lifelike animatronics in its theme parks, with Pandora: The World of Avatar hosting state-of-the-art robotic technology for its Na’vi, and the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge expected to do the same. You can find out more about the Star Wars theme park right here.
Check out the animatronic Abraham Lincoln below: