DARPA-Funded Inflatable Robotics Helps Spark Idea for Silver Screen Star

Make-believe soft robot in Disney’s newest movie has roots in real-world robotics research

The giant, balloon-like inflatable robot named Baymax in Disney's Big Hero 6 has its roots in real-world research conducted by iRobot Corporation, Carnegie Mellon University and Otherlab under DARPA's Maximum Mobility Manipulation (M3) program. The film's co-director, Don Hall, has said he was inspired to cast Baymax as an air-filled, soft robot after he saw an inflatable robotic arm on a visit to Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. Carnegie Mellon's work in soft robotics has been supported by DARPA and the National Science Foundation.


DARPA's M3 program is creating and demonstrating novel design tools, fabrication methods and control algorithms to make robots more mobile and better able to manipulate objects in their environment. One area of M3 research is fabric-skinned robots that are filled with and manipulated by air.

"The M3 program has made great strides in making robots move more naturally like animals or humans move," said Gill Pratt, DARPA program manager. "Inflatable robots, like the arm developed at Carnegie Mellon, offer unique benefits such as high strength to weight, small size when uninflated, low fabrication cost, and safety when working around human beings."

This video by DARPA performer Otherlab shows the human-like motion and dexterity achievable with inflatable robotics: http://ow.ly/DZpz1

The M3 program also has developed robots that draw inspiration from four-legged animals, such as the cheetah. View the electric cheetah-bot developed by DARPA performer MIT here: http://ow.ly/DPpo2

Featured Product

BitFlow Introduces 6th Generation Camera Link Frame Grabber: The Axion

BitFlow Introduces 6th Generation Camera Link Frame Grabber: The Axion

BitFlow has offered a Camera Link frame grabbers for almost 15 years. This latest offering, our 6th generation combines the power of CoaXPress with the requirements of Camera Link 2.0. Enabling a single or two camera system to operate at up to 850 MB/S per camera, the Axion-CL family is the best choice for CL frame grabber. Like the Cyton-CXP frame grabber, the Axion-CL leverages features such as the new StreamSync system, a highly optimized DMA engine, and expanded I/O capabilities that provide unprecedented flexibility in routing. There are two options available; Axion 1xE & Axion 2xE. The Axion 1xE is compatible with one base, medium, full or 80-bit camera offering PoCL, Power over Camera Link, on both connectors. The Axion 2xE is compatible with two base, medium, full or 80-bit cameras offering PoCL on both connectors for both cameras. The Axion-CL is a culmination of the continuous improvements and updates BitFlow has made to Camera Link frame grabbers.