December 28, 2016

South Korean engineers just built a real life Gundam robot

A South Korean-based engineering team has built a massive manned robot that resembles the soldier robots from the film Avatar.

According to a report from the Agence-France Presse, the 13-foot robot makes the ground shake when its walks and has only just taken its first few "baby steps."

Designed by a veteran of science fiction films, the Method-2 robot is being called a world first by developers at Hankook Mirae Technology, a South Korean robotics company. Around 30 engineers are currently working on the robot at a location on the outskirts of Seoul. "Our robot is the world's first manned bipedal robot and is built to work in extremely hazardous areas where humans cannot go (unprotected)," said company chairman Yang Jin-Ho.

More Than Meets the Eye

The robot is controlled by a pilot sitting within the robot’s torso, whose limb movements are replicated by Method-2’s 290-pound arms and legs. The robot is not designed for stealth. Quite conspicuous at more than double the height of a tall person, Method 2 shakes the ground when it walks, and its motors whir loudly. Yang told the AFP he had dreamed of building his own robot since he was a child, and has invested $200 million of his own money since 2014 to "bring to life what only seemed possible in movies and cartoons".

Thank you all very much for kind comments and positive response! To answer one of the most common questions what is this for I'll just say for now that from a mechanical/software/hardware/electric engineering stand point it was quite an ambitious project that required developing and enhancing a lot of technologies along the way. That growth opens up many real world applications where everything we have been learning so far on this robot can be applied to solve real world problems. (I'm not just talking bipedal robots) One of such projects is already in development, but I'm not allowed to say more at this moment. For those who thought it was fake here is a phone video where I walked too close to it and had to be pulled back lol #hankookmiraetechnology #koreafuturetechnology #robot #mech #walktest

A video posted by Vitaly Bulgarov (@vitalybulgarov) on

Building the massive robot was a difficult task for the engineers, most of them in their mid- and late-30s. The scale of the thing meant the team had to innovate several new technologies, one engineer told the AFP.

Thus far, the usefulness of Method 2 remains unclear. Currently, its status is more of a proving ground for various technologies that will permit the creators to make any kind of robot in the future. While its massive size has snapped up media interest, the creators of Method-2 said the development and advancement of technology is the most exciting aspect of this robot.

"Everything we have been learning so far on this robot can be applied to solve real-world problems," said designer Vitaly Bulgarov on his Facebook page.


Image credit: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP