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Raspberry Pi, IBM cognitive computing bring UK dinosaurs to life

The Blackgang Chine is the UK’s oldest amusement park and lately, it’s started to show. IBM research lead Andy Stanford Clark answered a call for help online and offered to give the park’s animatronic Dinosaurs a hardware make over. He used Raspberry Pi micro-computers and IBM’s cognitive computing platform to make them much smarter and more interactive.

Traditionally the dinosaurs at Blackgang Chine, located on the south coast of the Isle of White, had a  simple set of pre-defined movements. The park’s owner, Alexander Dabell, wanted to make them a little more exciting and so put out the dinosaur-shaped bat signal online. Andy Clark took him up on the challenge and brought his expertise, as well as IBM systems to bear and upgraded the entire system.

With Raspberry Pi systems in place, much more complex pre-programmed routines of movements have been created, giving the dinosaurs more complicated actions. On top of that, the platform makes use of IBM’s cognitive computing systems, which allow the dinosaurs to react to stimulus from the environment, as well as improve over time using machine learning.

This also comes into play with the environments the dinosaurs are in. Using the much more aware computational system, the park can better time the use of noises, or the way lighting and smoke machines are used to create a better atmosphere.

There are practical benefits too though. With the more connected system in place, Blackgang’s system can send out warnings to park workers if something needs fixing. And in the case of the long necked dinosaur animatronics, they can be sent weather warnings to get out there and put a neck brace on to protect them.

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KitGuru Says: Any time someone is making animatronic dinosaurs more impressive, I get excited. I still love a good robo-Rex. 

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