DISNEY'S LATEST RESEARCH WILL BLOW YOUR MINDDate: 2018-05-24
Researchers at weird and wonderful Disney dreamt up a stick-like robot that can do some majestic backflips.
Scientists working at Disney Research have made a habit of showing off early-stage technologies that are generally a way of entering practical use but offer an interesting look at what the future might hold.
The Disney Stickman robot is not about to be unleashed into the world, nor is it quite capable of the acrobatics of the Atlas humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics, which can walk, hop, jump and, as of November last year, pull off standing backflips with grace any gymnast would be proud of.
Stickman takes a simpler form and is basically a mechanical stick with two degrees of freedom. It hooks up to a gravity-driven pendulum that launches it into the air, where a combination of onboard laser rangefinders, inertial measurement unit and motion sensor system take over control.
These track the position of the robot as it moves through the air and, most importantly, dictates the speed with which it tucks up into a ball and then untucks again for landing. In doing so, how quickly the robot spins can be controlled, enabling it to pull of single backflips, double flips or none at all.
Sometimes, as is the case with Disney Research projects, the real-world potential of the Stickman is not entirely clear, and it does just land flat on its back on a mat. Although, it is interesting to see how the advance and development of robot dynamics are taking place, which is making machines more agile, mobile and human-like all the time.
And it looks pretty cool too, as you can see in the video below.