The science of robotics is becoming one of the most exciting areas of advancement in the last few years. Creations like Asimo show that incredible things can be done and that people are always fascinated by how far this technological age has progressed. The movies have certainly helped in glamorising robots, constantly showing us the pros and cons of their creation.
The almost childlike glee one can have from seeing these creations were certainly felt by one very famous individual. His name was Walt Disney, and way back in 1964 he was using his love of robotics to create his own inventions which were showcased at the New York World Fair. Here you could see a Disney-made Abraham Lincoln giving animated speeches to all.
Soon after this incredible display in 1965, the Navy got in touch and through recently revealed memos from Disney collector and trader Phil Sears (via the website Pale of Future) we can see that they wanted him (through his company WED Enterprise) to create a form of exoskeleton capable of lifting massive weight for short bursts of time.
This was not as surprising as you may think. Walt had already done some propaganda pieces for the military, so he did have connections to them. What was surprising however, was that he had no interest in the project and decided to reject it. Maybe he did not think the project was worth the investment or maybe he wanted to continue with working on his own brand of animatronics. Work on these kinds of suits was already underway by other people (see below for examples of this technology from 1961) so maybe Walt felt he was repeating himself if he had a go?
The exosuit concept has popped up in numerous films throughout the years. Probably the most famous versions of it can be seen in Aliens, Pacific Rim, Elysium, and of course, Iron Man. Would we now be seeing this type of hardware if Walt had put his hand to it all those years ago, or would we still be waiting for them like the flying cars and hover boards we continue to pine for?
No way to know, of course. This technology is still being fine tuned today, so maybe in the future we will all have our very own Iron Man suits to help us out in our everyday lives. Fingers crossed they are a little less clunky than their predecessors, and come complete with repulsor technology. Lifting heavy stuff is cool, but flying in a weaponized suit of armor is so much better.