Stickman Explores the Physics of Flying Through the Air
This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.
Olympic gymnast Simone Biles has a signature move that is named after her because she is the only woman on earth capable of performing it. The move starts as a layout double flip, but more than halfway through suddenly develops a twist that rotates her body through an extra 180 degrees to land face first. The only visible source of this sudden change in rotation is a small motion of one hand as her arm goes from straight to bent. It’s a beautiful example of how the seemingly simple physics of ballistic motion, completely governed by a relatively simple conservation of angular momentum, can produce amazing and unexpected results.
Disney Research has a rich history of pushing the boundaries of innovation at The Walt Disney Company. That said, we found that combination of simple physics and surprising results compelling—perhaps it would be possible to build a relatively simple robot that could accomplish remarkable things.