Style robot takes first baby steps
A giant South Korean-built manned robot that walks like a human but makes the ground shake under its weight has taken its first baby steps.
Designed by a veteran of science fiction blockbusters, the four-meter-tall, 1.5-ton Method-2 towers over a room on the outskirts of Seoul.
The hulking human-like creation bears a striking resemblance to the military robots starring in the movie Avatar.
It is claimed as a world first by its creators at Hankook Mirae Technology, a robotics company, where about 30 engineers were hard at work conducting initial tests on Tuesday afternoon.
“Our robot is the world’s first manned bipedal robot and is built to work in extreme hazardous areas where humans cannot go (unprotected),” said company chairman Yang Jin-ho.
A pilot sitting inside the robot’s torso makes limb movements which are mimicked by Method-2, whose metal arms each weigh 130 kilograms.
The robot, more than twice the size of a tall man, is so heavy that it shakes the ground when it takes a step with a loud whirring of motors.
Yang, who dreamed as a child of building his own robot, said he has invested $200 million in the project since 2014 to “bring to life what only seemed possible in movies and cartoons”.
Building the giant robot was a challenge for the engineers — most of them in their 30s — as its unprecedented scale meant they had nothing to refer to, said one who declined to be named.
So far, it remains unclear how the robot will be used. Method-2 is seen more as a test-bed for various technologies that will allow the creators to build any type and size of robot in future.
“Everything we have been learning so far on this robot can be applied to solve realworld problems,” said designer Vitaly Bulgarov on his Facebook page.
But the robot, tethered by a power cable and still a bit wobbly on its feet, is far from finished. More work is needed on its balance and power systems, according to its creators.
“The robot is one year old so it is taking baby steps,” Yang said.
“Just like humans, it will be able to move more freely in the next couple of years.”
He said the robot will be ready for sale by the end of 2017 at a price of around $8 million.
An engineer controls walking robot Method-2 in Gunpo, South Korea, on Tuesday.