reported to have been seen on a CM Information portal
"From the 1985 cult classic "Weird Science" to "Bill Nye the Science Guy" in the 1990s, entertainment has made science and math pop-culture cool. Now, Walt Disney Imagineering is working with the Raytheon Company to develop a simulator ride experience that will make physics "fly" for a whole new generation of would-be engineers, and aptly be named The Sum of All Thrills.
Raytheon, a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world, is committed to inspiring today's youth to be tomorrow's math and science leaders. To that end, the company recently signed on to sponsor an exhibit in the INNOVENTIONS pavilion at Epcot®. Their goal for the exhibit is to create a fun learning experience that will help instill a lifelong passion for math and science in the younger generation.
Raytheon shares The Walt Disney Company's commitment to innovation and education through imagination. In 2005, Raytheon launched MathMovesU.com, an interactive program to educate and entertain middle school students using activities that showcase the math behind students' favorite pastimes.
Imagineers are developing a ride experience for the exhibit that interprets Raytheon's educational objective. Show Producer Eric Goodman is leading the creative team, along with Alex Wright and Debra Wren. Jerold Kaplan, technical director for ride engineering in Florida, and Senior Mechanical Engineer Bob Vignec are leading the ride design team. Brent Strong, associate concept designer, is developing the guests' user interface, while Jeremy Stolarz and Bei Yang are in charge of programming the ride system.
The Sum of All Thrills is the first ride experience designed for INNOVENTIONS. The exhibit allows guests to use math and engineering principles to create their own roller coaster, jet plane or bobsled ride, and then experience their customized ride inside a unique motion simulator.
The team's creative approach for The Sum of All Thrills employs classic WDI storytelling. The space will feel like a high-tech laboratory for imaginative, cutting-edge scientists. Picture "Ironman" or gadget guru "Q" from the James Bond movies. "When guests first enter the space, they're introduced to the science of physics, such as force and velocity," Eric explained. "Next, they move into the design area where they apply the fundamentals of physics to create their own ride experience. Finally, they board the simulator to experience the ride they created."
Central to the story is the message that math can be cool. Instead of the rigid assumption that math is hard and sometimes even boring, guests will be invited to view math in a whole new way - one that's fun and engaging, and with endless possibilities, depending on your perspective. According to Eric, "Math can be empowering when you realize you control the numbers, the numbers don't control you." The Sum of All Thrills delivers that message in a powerful way by giving guests full control over what they will ride.
The design team is using two unique components to engineer a ride experience that delivers on this over-the-top creative intent. The first is a large multi-touch surface table. Brent and the WDI Creative Interactive team have been working with several companies to not only create a unique piece of hardware, but also develop a simple, intuitive and fun user interface for guests. The second element is the unique simulator, a gigantic robot arm manufactured by German-based KUKA Roboter GmbH.
The area where guests design their experience features a major breakthrough in technology for Imagineers: an interactive multi-touch surface table, large enough for two people to use. The table also has the ability to recognize objects placed on it, such as rulers and protractors, using infrared sensors. "We put the outline of a hill on the table and give the guests a physical protractor and ruler. By simply dragging their fingers along the protractor, they can change the angle of the hill, and using the ruler, alter its height. Add the right amount of energy to the equation, and guests have created their very own experience," described Brent. It's simple Newtonian physics, but without the calculations.
KUKA robotic arms have been used extensively in the automotive and medical industries, and even were featured in the 2002 James Bond movie Die Another Day. The decision to use commercially-available machinery as a major ride component presented numerous challenges. Since it was designed originally for manufacturing, the KUKA arm was programmed to move from point A to point B as efficiently as possible, explained Jerold. But Imagineers want the arm to move in a more story-like way, through arcs with swooping turns and spiraling twists. Working together, Jerold, Bob, Jeremy, Bei and KUKA's engineers are reprogramming the arm in a new way to perform these types of moves. For Bob, the most challenging and fun part has been working with the German engineering team on a detailed technical review of Robocoaster to make sure it meets all applicable standards for ride design.
The Sum of All Thrills exemplifies INNOVENTIONS' focus on creativity, innovation and imagination, and their practical applications in everyday life. It is the first robotic arm ride system for a Disney theme park, requiring a huge team effort. "We went out and found the best people on both coasts to bring this ride together," said Eric. They include Art Director Alex Wright, the ride team and graphics designers on the East Coast and interactive designers, ride programmers and technical directors on the West Coast. "The exciting part will be to see what this ride is capable of and how people react, and then use it as a learning and development tool for what we might accomplish in the future," Jerold added.
The Sum of All Thrills is scheduled to open in late 2009."