Stickman is Disney’s new headless acrobatic robot

The team at Disney Research never fails to deliver fascinating (if not always particularly useful) experiments. Take Stickman. The robot is essentially one long limb, capable of some cool acrobatic maneuvers.

The system, detailed in a new paper from DR titled “Towards a Human Scale Acrobatic Robotic,” has two degrees of freedom and a pendulum it uses to launch itself in the air after swinging on a rope. The relatively simple robot tucks and folds, somersaulting in the air before landing on the padding below.

Those aerials are executed courtesy of a built-in laser range finder and six axis inertial measurement unit (a combination gyroscope/accelerometer), which calculate its position in-flight and adjust its positioning accordingly.

“Stickman emulates the behavior of human performers using a very limited set of sensing and actuation capabilities,” the team writes in the paper. “It is able to successfully perform several different somersaulting stunts by changing initial orientation and the timing of tuck, release, and untuck.”

The team says it’s going to continue experimenting with the robot, in an attempt to create more complex stunts down the road. No word on future plans beyond that, but for this headless acrobat of a robot, the sky, it seems, is the limit.