Disney Patents ‘Robot Sherpas’ to Carry Your Belongings Around the Park

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him

Disney Patents ‘Robot Sherpas’ to Carry Your Belongings Around the Park
Photo: Decerry Donato

Move over, WALL-E: Guests at Walt Disney’s parks could soon use robotic lockers that follow them around the venue to carry their belongings.


The so-called “robotic Sherpas” are being developed by Disney, which filed a patent for the technology this week, according to the Orlando Business Journal. The technology sounds a lot like autonomous wheeled robots that delivery startups are increasingly using to deliver food – equipped with cameras and proximity sensors that will help it move about crowded parks like Disneyland in Anaheim without running into everyone’s ankles.

The patent filed June 14 said the eventual plan is for guests to be able to summon the robot to zoom back to their location – or anywhere else in the park – from a distance by using a mobile app. Disney is also planning to let staff remotely pilot the robots, the patent said.

An image from the patent filing obtained by local Orlando station Fox 25 showed a drawing of a woman with a baby who could use the robot locker to store her items.

The overall goal is to make retrieving and storing items more convenient for guests. One side goal of the project could be to encourage people to spend more in retail stores – the patent noted people are less likely to buy from gift shops at Disney if they’re already carrying a lot of gear.

“As Imagineers, we're always pushing technology and innovation and testing new applications for possible future opportunities,” Walt Disney spokesperson Diego Parras told OBJ this week. “At this point, we simply are exploring potential uses for this technology and have no plans for specific implementation.”

The patent lists a few items that could be stored in the lockers, including umbrellas or packed lunches. In addition to several locking mechanisms, the robot Sherpas will also have a removable storage compartment so the storage containers can be interchanged.

Lockers already exist at the theme parks, but a mobile locker that could reach guests anywhere would certainly command a premium for the convenience of saving themselves the trek across the park.

Although its parks across the globe reopened beginning in May 2020, Disney took a hit during the pandemic when it had to close down its attractions and lucrative cruises at the beginning of the year. In its second quarter earnings report CEO Bob Chapek said domestic parks are operating basically as normal, but international parks and cruise ships are still impacted by coronavirus restrictions. While people definitely won’t go to parks just to see the eventual robot Sherpas at work, if the tech can encourage guests to spend more while there, it would be a boost to Disney’s bottom line.

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Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

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