Recently you may have spotted a robotic dog in CityWalk at the Universal Orlando Resort. His name is Latte and he even has a drink crafted in his honor at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. This is where he is doing tricks with Penelope and Jacques daily through September 30th.
While he certainly is cute, you got to be asking yourself: why? Why put an autonomous robotic dog next to a restaurant? Is this really needed to sell milkshakes? How many milkshakes would you have to sell in order to break even on the cost of Latte, plus two performers and a team of engineers keeping him running smoothly? The answer is quite a few milkshakes.
Indeed, this little guy was never designed to sell milkshakes. He actually had a much grander plan in a theme park that might never open down the street. Keep in mind, the information contained here is considered rumor until Universal Orlando says otherwise. That said, this particular yarn has some legs. <rimshot>
Who built Latte? Oddly enough, this information is public knowledge. Boston Dynamics actually admitted creating the pup on their twitter account a few days ago. Who is Boston Dynamics?
Boston Dynamics creates incredible robots that will haunt your nightmares. Seriously, the things they can do are superhuman. This is by design. Keep in mind, the company is creating and designing robots that can be used for military applications. In addition, there are commercial uses for them as well.
This brings us to Latte. One of the products that Boston Dynamics creates are robotic dogs. The functions Latte has been performing for guests at CityWalk is roughly 10% of what this little guy can actually do. He’s extremely agile, can go up and down stairs and can even pull a decent amount of weight.
Believe it or not, when Latte was originally purchased from Boston Dynamics, he wasn’t named after a coffee drink. He wasn’t even a dog. As part of Universal’s Epic Universe, Universal Creative bought a robot to be a “living” character within the park.
Keep in mind, the idea was not for any of these character ideas to be totally free roaming amongst guests. Many of these would be kept behind fences in a landscaped area where they could “roam” on their own.
For example, we reported about a year ago that one of the four lands that would open in Universal’s Epic Universe revolved around the Fantastic Beasts franchise. As one idea, Universal Creative wanted a Hippogriff to prance around some grassy hills behind a wooden fence barrier. Granted, this version of the “dog” would have to be a bit larger to look like a Hippogriff. Guests could take pictures of it from afar.
Another idea? As you probably already know, a Universal Monsters section was also designed for Universal’s Epic Universe. Imagine a horseless hearse, as seen in front of Disney’s Haunted Mansion down the road. This time, the hearse can move down the road slowly instead of just being parked like at the Magic Kingdom. The robotic dog would’ve actually been under the carriage pushing it along and you’d hear a ghost horse in front clopping along through speakers hidden inside the hearse.
Finally, Latte might have actually been a sheep. From the film How to Train Your Dragon, another land that would have been featured at Universal’s Epic Universe, you may remember these furry little guys. With a few modifications, Latte might have been given a sheepskin, hooves and voila! He’s a sheep. In this case, they were looking to buy several robotic dogs and have them act like a herd in a grassy area away from guests. Occasionally, an attendant would open up a gate allowing them to travel across a guest sidewalk from one grassy hill to another.
Might these ideas end up in Universal’s Epic Universe someday? We have no idea. The park isn’t officially dead, so who knows? Could we see it used somewhere within the current Universal Orlando parks? That’s also quite possible. Here’s hoping Latte gets a cooler look and a more permanent home sometime in the future!
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