Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox every week.      
The Kid Should See This

The animatronic animals of Spy in the Wild

Over 30 animatronic creatures were created for Spy in the Wild, the PBS and BBC co-produced wild animal mini-series, including a sloth, a warthog, a squirrel, an otter, a cobra, and an orangutan. Designer John Nolan gave each animal a hidden camera eye, and used his animatronic experience from movies like Where the Wild Things Are and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to make them look as real as possible.

This project, however, posed a very specific challenge: The movements of these spy creatures needed to be lifelike enough to not scare the animals they were trying to film. In the Nature on PBS clip above, the animals’ electronics and servos are revealed: Getting Under a Spy Creature’s Skin.

And here’s how it worked in the wild: Spy meerkat helps babysit.

This is also fascinating: Robot ‘Spy Sloth’ Meets Real Sloth.

And behind-the-scenes with a spy otter, here’s how they made the creatures look furry and real:

The goal of the project was to not only entertain, but to capture new footage that might help advance scientific understanding of animal behaviors and how they’re connected to their ecosystems. From BBC One, director John Downer and producer Rob Pilley talk about making the series:

Related watching: A Spy in the Wild video playlist.

Next: Roboraptors and the Alarm Call Network and The Best Bloopers from Penguins – Spy in the Huddle. Plus: Animal cams.

h/t Laughing Squid.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

Festo Robot Animals: Penguins, jellyfish, rays, and more

Rion Nakaya

A squirrel takes a GoPro up into the tree branches

Rion Nakaya

DARPA Robotics Challenge 2013 – A Woodstock for Robots

Rion Nakaya

Take a ride on an eagle’s back over France’s Rhone-Alpes

Rion Nakaya

MIT CSAIL’s robotic fish can independently swim with real fish

Rion Nakaya

How the BBC makes Planet Earth look like a Hollywood movie

Rion Nakaya

The ‘Bear Bathtub’ in Yellowstone National Park

Rion Nakaya

Bionic Kangaroo – Festo

Rion Nakaya

Humpback whales making ‘bubble nets’

Rion Nakaya