Yamakita Lab, a division of TITECH (Tokyo Institute of Technology), worked on creating an acrobatic humanoid robot called Super Mechano Boy, or SMB for short, between 1999-2001. This is only one of their projects, which included an auto-balancing robotic motorbike, a robotic anaconda, and a jumping robot.
Super Mechano Boy (gotta love that name) is an under-actuated wire-driven robot, meaning he is composed of only 8 joints. He stands about 50cm (19″) tall (without a head) and weighs 4kg (8.8 lbs). He may not look like much, but he’s quite impressive when seen in action.
Super Mechano Boy’s main purpose seems to be replicating the motions of a gymnast on parallel bars, flipping around and maintaining balance in an upright posture before a dramatic dismount. He has some trouble sticking a landing but he can balance for up to a minute upside-down on the bar. This project appears to have been renamed to AcrobatRobot and transferred to Sanpei Lab, another division of TITECH, at some point. The AcrobatRobot was able to jump 15cm (6″) and catch the parallel bar in its grippers.
- TITECH Yamakita Lab (official site JP/EN)
- TITECH Sanpei Lab (official site JP)
- TITECH (official site JP/EN)