Robotics are about to get a whole lot cuter. Engineers at Disney’s research division have created the newest robot sure to delight children across the globe: a hopping Tigger. The beloved companion of Winnie The Pooh has had a slew of toys and stuffed animals made in his likeness, but never one that has so perfectly captured Tigger’s bouncy disposition.
The new robot can hop on one leg a whopping total of 19 times without falling over. Most robots that even attempt to hop require two legs or some sort of tether to maintain equilibrium. Tigger’s design is a little different. Engineers created a device with a thrust-producing mechanism called Linear Elastic Actuator in Parallel, or LEAP. LEAP allows the robot to maintain its balance and account for its weight with each jump, resulting in a bouncy creation that can keep going for a solid seven seconds of hopping fun.
LEAP operates as a refined actuated prismatic joint. The linear sliding motion of the joint provides a smooth and sustainable amount of thrust in each movement — perfect for powering Tigger’s enthusiastic hopping. Unlike other thrusting devices, LEAP maintains a steady distribution of weight for the robot, so Tigger won’t flop over after the first jump.
This is a big success for Disney Research, perfectly combining electronic innovation with beloved and hugely successful characters. The Tigger robot is just the most recent design, but it certainly ranks as one of the most exciting — particularly for his legions of fans of all ages.
The question is, what’s next for Tigger? Although Disney is excited to share its newest invention, there’s no word on what they intend to do with it. Will Tigger end up bouncing along in the form of an animatronic at theme parks? Or will children be able to delight over their very own jumping stuffed toy? A bouncing Tigger toy just in time for the holiday season? That sounds like the must-have gift of the year — and a major win for Disney Research.