About two years ago, Disney Imagineers gave the world its first look at something they called “Project Kiwi.” The project is a free-walking robot designed after the Guardians of the Galaxy movie character, Baby Groot. Now, Disneyland officials confirm that real-life play tests are happening! Select Guests will be invited to an exclusive presentation of the animatronic Baby Groot.
According to Mice Chat, Disney California Adventure has already been holding small group testing. “The lucky participants have been invited to jam out with Groot as part of a special Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Dance Off.” If you’re one of the lucky selected Guests, you can see Star-Lord and Groot have a dance-off! Groot reacts and moves as if he’s really alive.
After two years of virtual radio silence on the Baby Groot animatronic, fans were starting to worry that plans to release the technology had fallen through. But now that tests are happening, there’s a promising chance that a walking Baby Groot will show up in Disneyland sometime soon.
In 2021, Disney Imagineering Research & Development, Inc. released a wordless video showing the “early concept exploration” of the animatronic. And the end result is pretty mind-blowing. The video starts by documenting the initial stages of engineering in 2018. A leg-shaped weave of wires, bolts, and plastic moves up and down to test the knee joint, then two of the robot legs are fashioned onto a little pelvis, running in place.
In the very next shot, the legs are walking across the floor with little support. In 2019 the robot has grown and is walking on its own, nearly unassisted. It does little pop steps that start to resemble dancing. The robot then walks itself around the Disney offices! A little recalibration then…
…boom! All of a sudden, in 2020, we have a fully realized free-walking Baby Groot strolling into frame. He waves and blinks serenely. Then he balances on one foot! He dances with a fluidity some humans even lack, and his boxing erases the idea that he is even a robot at all.
He is no longer a robot. He is Groot!
See the video below.