After years of trial and error, a Japanese hobbyist has built a gymnast robot that can perform a somersault off a horizontal bar in his living room and stick the landing. The man, who goes by the handle Hinamitetu on YouTube, built the first version of the robot out of boredom after being laid off from a job back in 2010. Since then, the robot has gone through twelve revisions. Although somewhat crudely made, the robot incorporates sensors to automatically clamp onto the bar, and an accelerometer to determine when to let go.
Weighing 5.9 kg (13 lb) and standing 45 cm (17.7 in) tall, the robot gymnast uses a simple motor located in its waist to swing its legs to build up speed. It also literally "sticks" the landing thanks to the soles of its feet being covered in adhesive. In previous experiments documented on YouTube, the seventh version of the robot managed to do a flip in mid-air and then catch the bar again on its way down.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this isn't the only acrobatic robot made in Japan. Back in 1999 researchers at TITECH's Yamakita Lab and Sanpei Lab developed a humanoid robot called Super Mechano Boy that was a bit more advanced. It was able to jump 6 inches (15 cm) and grab onto a horizontal bar, swung its legs to build up momentum, and could balance in an upright position above the bar for around a minute. However, work on that project seems to have ended by 2002.
It doesn't look like these robots will be winning any gold medals, but you can watch clips of them doing their best in the following videos.
Gymnast robot version 12 sticks the landing.
Gymnast robot version 7 grabs bar in mid-air.