Watch Disney's new robot perform backflips


  • Disney Robotics has a new acrobatic robot called Stickman.
  • Stickman uses a gravity-driven pendulum approach to launch.
  • Once in air, Stickman uses motion detection technology to perform aerial stunts.
Everyone loves to see acrobats perform at a circus but did you know that Disney Research has come up with their own human-scale robot that can perform a double back flip? Accurately named the ‘Stickman’, Disney’s robot can perform a range of stunts on the foundation of inertial motion-sensing technology.

Stickman is made up of three lengths that helps the robot fold into a tuck and then expand again before it sticks the landing. More than that, the folding and unfolding features helps the robot adjust its rate of spin.

Its three laser range finders -- leading, center and trailing -- help the Stickman determine how close or far away the ground is, as it falls. And, according to the research team behind Disney’s projects, imagining the robot rotating on a large pendulum helps them predict the Stickman’s capabilities.

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The three factors above, combined with its IMU, make up the robot’s motion capture system that allows the robot to calculate when to tuck and when to extend itself to safety land on its back.

Since the Stickman doesn’t really have any feet and is far of having any sort of humanoid structure, we’d have to wait for a bit to see its practical applications in the field. But the possibilities of how it can be useful are endless - from rescue operations to mere entertainment.

Boston Dynamics has their own backflipping robot, the Atlas. Not to mention that it already has feet and a, somewhat, human looking exterior. Even their SpotMini, can climb stairs and open doors.

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On top of that, there are inventions like Cassie, the two-legged robot that delivers packages to your doorstep by Agility Robotics, already being produced and sold. That is to say, maybe practical applications aren’t all that far away.

(Image source: Disney Research)
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