Bullies giving you a hard time at school? Not anymore.
The giant robot has been one of the coolest concepts in sci-fi since forever. I mean, who hasn’t fantasized about wielding the strength and size of an enormous mechanized avatar? As of this week, that fantasy looks close to being realized.
Behold the 13-foot tall 1.5-ton “Method-2,” brainchild of South Korean robotics company Hankook Mirae Technology, which is taking its first “baby steps” under the watchful eyes of about 30 engineers and members of the media this week.
As The Telegraph quotes company chairman Yang Jin-Ho: “Our robot is the world’s first manned bipedal robot and is built to work in extreme hazardous areas where humans cannot go [unprotected.]”
Yang has reportedly invested $200 million in the project since 2014. “The robot is one year old so it is taking baby steps,” Yang told The Telegraph. “Just like humans, it will be able to move more freely in the next couple of years.”
The paper also says Method-2 will be “ready for sale by the end of 2017 at a price of around 10 billion won ($8.3 million).” So perhaps the company’s planning to sell an elemental version or something about the timeline got lost in translation there.
Meanwhile, let’s focus on what’s important: it’s a freaking giant robot you can drive.
At first I was sure this machine was just a Hollywood prop, especially given the involvement of designer Vitaly Bulgarov, whose work you might recognize in Transformers, RoboCop, Terminator and other sci-fi projects.
But while Bulgarov did draw up some dramatized battlebot renders for Hankook Mirae, it looks like Method-2 is an honest-to-god Earth-stomping manned mech, with 286-pound arms mimicking the movements of the robot’s pilot, just like the suit from the last battle scene of Avatar.
Yang has spent millions of dollars and years of energy to “bring to life what only seemed possible in movies and cartoons,” and yeah, looks like his company pretty much nailed it.
Method-2 is apparently slated to be deployed in Japan’s Fukushima disaster area, as Bulgarov detailed on his Facebook page:
“One of the most common questions we get is about the power source. 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. A modified version of that is already in development and is planned to help in restoration of Fukushima disaster area. Stay tuned for more updates!”
Method-2 looks like it could do everything from construction to military patrols, but of course the true extent of the robot’s practical applications will be determined by what its real-world functionality ends up looking like.
That said, if a consumer version really is made available for $8 million, I bet the Koreans would have no trouble selling a few of these to eccentric rich people as toys.