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28th December 2016

Giant robot could patrol military borders

A four metre (13 ft), 1.5-ton bipedal robot, designed and built by military scientists in South Korea, has taken its first steps.

As demonstrated in the video below, "Method-2" can hold a pilot who sits inside the torso and controls its arms and legs, allowing it to walk. Fans of science fiction movies like Aliens and Avatar will notice the similarity with hi-tech machines depicted in those films. The robot is so large and heavy that it shakes the ground nearby when walking.

Its creation has involved the work of 30 engineers at robotics company Hankook Mirae Technology, guided by lead designer Vitaly Bulgarov who has previously worked on films such as Transformers, Robocop and Terminator.

"One of the most common questions we get is about the power source," he said on Facebook. "The company’s short-term goals include developing robotic platforms for industrial areas where having a tethered robot is not an issue. Another short-term, real world application includes mounting only the top part of the robot on a larger wheeled platform – solving the problem of locomotion through an uneven terrain, as well as providing enough room for sufficient power source."

“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. He has invested 242bn won ($200 million) in the project since 2014 to "bring to life what only seemed possible in movies and cartoons".

The company has already received inquiries from manufacturing, construction, entertainment and other industries. There have even been questions about its possible deployment along the Demilitarised Zone with North Korea. It might also be used for cleaning up disaster sites like Fukushima. However, the machine needs further research and development first to improve its balance and power systems. At present, it remains tethered by a power cable, but if all goes according to plan, it should be able to move more freely within the next couple of years. The price tag for Method-2 will be 10bn won ($8.3 million).




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