In the popular video game MechWarrior, towering robots called BattleMechs dominate 31st-century battlefields.
Back here in the 21st century, Yang Jin-Ho, CEO of South Korean robotics firm Hankook Mirae Technology, took the first baby steps inside his 13-foot-tall, 1.5-ton, manned bipedal robot called Method-2. According to reports, the thing shakes the ground with every step.
The 31st century doesn’t seem so far away.
Back in 2014, Jin-Ho did what any millionaire sci-fi devotee would do: spend $200 million to build a giant, piloted robot. To pull it all together, Jin-Ho partnered with Hollywood special effects veteran Vitaly Bulgarov, whose cinematic ventures into robotics include Terminator, Robocop and Transformers.
Human-machine interface and arm motion test! “METHOD-1” large manned robot project for which I had a pleasure to make the design. Very fortunate to be part of the incredible Hankook Mirae Technology team. (previously posted as Korea Future Technology since “Hankook” means “South Korea” in Korean Language and “Mirae” means “Future”)team. #hankookmiraetechnology #koreafuturetechnology #industrialdesign #robot #mech
To control the robot, the pilot simply moves their arms and Method-2 mimics the motions with its 286-pound limbs. “Our robot is the world’s first manned bipedal robot and is built to work in extreme hazardous areas where humans cannot go (unprotected),” Jin-Ho told The Telegraph Tuesday.
Method-2, as you can tell, is still a bit clumsy—it’s still tethered power cable—but all the research that went into building it will reap tangential benefits for the company, Jin-Ho said. The team of 30 engineers plans to improve Method-2’s coordination and power systems over the next few years, and Jin-Ho says it could be ready for sale by the end of 2017 — for $8.3 million.
According to The Telegraph, Jin-Ho has already received inquiries about the technology from players in manufacturing and entertainment industries.