A new patent application filed by Disney has revealed a new development in their robotic stunt performer, or “Stuntronics,” program.
Recently, Disney’s research arm, Disney Research, tested out a program called “Stickman: Toward a Human Scale Acrobatic Robot.” A stick-like robot is held and then released from a pendulum, curl ups as it falls to perform a flip, and then extend again to land, mimicking an acrobat’s movements. But being able to control exactly where it lands has been a challenge, as the application explains:
To date, though, it has proven difficult to create robots that tumble through the air at high speeds and high spin rates. To date, most efforts at controlling a robot’s movements while in the air or flying have involved relatively complex robotic devices and controls. For example, some robots have been designed with a tail, and the tail is moved while the robot is in the air in an attempt to control the robot’s orientation upon landing. In another example, legged robots are controlled to move their legs during jumping and other “flight” type movements to control the pose or orientation of the robot when it lands. While useful in some applications, these robots are relatively complex and expensive to build and control and have not been wholly successful in providing accurate control of the robot’s movement or spin during flight. As a result, there remains a demand for less complex robot designs that provide control over spin or rotation during flight or falling.