In Disney’s continued quest to breath life into all of its cartoon characters, it might be going beyond a mere costume. Its research branch just revealed what appears to be the first attempt to make a robotic version of Tigger, Winnie the Pooh’s tiger pal, who’s best known for bouncing around on his tail.
The latest invention from Disney’s research division can hop around on one leg without the need for a tether to prevent it from falling over, although a cable is visible in the video which is presumably used to deliver a continuous supply of power. What’s important is that eventually this robot can wander around completely autonomously, which sets it apart from previous attempts at robot locomotion on a single limb.
The robot’s single leg uses a technology called a linear elastic actuator in parallel—or LEAP, for short—which employs both an electromagnetic actuator, as well as two compression springs. The position and real-time adjustments made to its leg are handled by a pair of standard servo motors, and in its current form it can hop around for up to seven seconds before toppling—or roughly just as long as Tigger can hop on his tail before crashing into something.
Update: Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Research reached out to us to clarify that the tether seen in this video is actually a nylon cord used to catch the robot in case of a fall to avoid damaging it. It doesn’t supply power, as the robot carries its own lithium polymer batteries onboard supplying all the power it needs.