Disney Research has developed a method for designing cable-driven mechanisms that help artists and hobbyists give physical form and motion to animated characters.Assemblies of cables and joints make it possible to achieve desired motions and poses in a character, even when artistic preferences dictate limb sizes that make it infeasible to place motors at each joint. Cable-driven mechanisms also are suitable for devices, such as robotic hands, that must be small and lightweight to function.
“The advent of consumer-level 3D printing and affordable, off-the-shelf electronic components has given artists the machinery to make articulated, physical versions of animated characters,” said research scientist Moritz Bacher. “Our approach eliminates much of the complexity of designing those mechanisms.”
The researchers demonstrated their method by designing a 2D puppet-like version of an animated character that is able to assume several desired fighting stances. They also used it to design a gripper for picking up light objects and a simple robotic hand with an opposable thumb.