Disney’s fearless robotic stuntmen take to sky like superheroes

Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development

Visitors to Disneyland and other Disney resorts could end up seeing robots tackling some pretty crazy, death-defying stunts usually reserved for Marvel superheroes and Star Wars Jedi Masters.

Disney’s latest Stuntronics experiments with robots include teaching them to crawl, row and now, more impressively, perform daring aerial acrobatics.

new video features the robots propelled into the sky to spin and leap like robotic superheroes. And they look even more advanced and human-like than the last time we saw them.

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Watch Disney’s acrobatic robots


 The robots, initially nicknamed Stickman, work by using on-board accelerometers, gyroscopes and laser range-finding data to determine how to perform impressive stunts like single and double backflips. 

The Disney Research Hub published more findings on Tuesday on developing controls on a modular legged robot’s hardware. The Disney researchers are training neural networks to control the robot’s legs. 

Robots learning to use their legs, especially when damaged, can be a crucial step in teaching robots how to navigate, even when broken. In the case of a 2014 scientific paper on robots learning to adapt like animals when injured, researchers discovered that using an intelligent trial and error algorithm “allows robots to adapt to damage in less than two minutes.”

This will come in handy in case Stickman ends up getting injured, er broken, during its high-flying stunt work.

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