"Hey guys!" wrote Vitaly Bulgarov, a concept designer based in California, on his Facebook page a few days ago. "I'm excited to share some updates and work-in-progress motion tests for the 4 m tall, 1.5 ton heavy manned robot I have been working on with a Seoul-based robotics company, Korea Future Technology."
Bulgarov is well known in video game and film circles for his skill designing futuristic robots for games like World Of Warcraft and Diablo 3 and movies including Robocop (2014), Transformers 4 and others. But this was something different. Bulgarov, used to rendering heroes and villains using 3-D computer modeling software, was invited by a Korean robotics company to build something real.
That was back in 2014 and now, nearly two years later, Bulgarov is showing off the results: Method-1, a 13-ft robotic suit that looks like something out of Pacific Rim. Piloted by a human, who sits inside a glass-enclosed cockpit, the machine is capable of walking across the floor, in forward or reverse, each step a thundering reminder of its weight.
"It shakes the ground," Bulgarov says in the video.
It's articulated ankles give it flexibility and stability. Inside the cockpit, the pilot's arms are strapped into contraptions that allow him to control the motion of the robot's arms. If he outstretches his arms, the robot does. If he curls them in, the robot does too.
For indoor applications, the power comes from an overhead tether. In the video, Method-1 appears has been hooked to a moving girder to prevent it from toppling over. For outdoor applications, where terrain might be uneven, the robot's torso could be mounted to a wheeled platform containing a power source, Bulgarov explained.
"A modified version of that is already in development and is planned to help in restoration of Fukushima disaster area," Bulgarov wrote on his Facebook page.