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'Avatar' style robot takes baby steps in South Korea

News Desk
News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, January 11, 2017 | 06:18 pm
'Avatar' style robot takes baby steps in South Korea

The human-like creation has the hallmarks of the military robots that starred in the 2009 movie Avatar. (www.facebook.com/hankook.mirae.technology/File)

A towering South Korean-built manned robot designed by a consumer of sci-fi blockbusters has taken its first steps in Gunpo. In a room in the suburbs of Seoul, the four-meter tall, 1.5 ton, Method-2 stands tall and sturdy.

The human-like creation has the hallmarks of the military robots that starred in the 2009 movie Avatar.

Its creators at Hankook Mirae Technology, a South Korean robotics company, classified the robot as the first ever of its kind on Tuesday afternoon.

“Our robot is the world’s first manned bipedal robot and is built to work in extreme and hazardous areas where humans cannot go [unprotected]," said the company’s chairman Yang Jin Ho as quoted by The Japan News.

As a child, Yang had always dreamed of building his own robot; which is why he invested US$200 million in this project three years ago. He wanted so eagerly to “bring to life what only seemed possible in movies and cartoons”.

To maneuver it, the pilot sitting inside the robot’s torso controls limb movements, which are then followed by Method-2.

(Read also: Humanoid robot Pepper is amusing, but is it practical?)

The robot is bigger than the size of two tall men and is so heavy that it makes the ground shake under its weight when it takes a single step. To add to that, its metal hands each weigh a whopping 130 kilograms and its motors make loud whirring noises when it launches.

Building the Avatar-style robot was no mean feat for the engineers as its ambiguous scale meant there was no point of reference throughout the construction process, explained one of the engineers who declined to be named.

At this point, how the robot will be utilized is uncertain. But in the mean time, it will be regarded as a test-bed for different technology creators to build any type and size of robot in the future.

Yang reveals that they have already received inquiries from manufacturing, entertainment and construction industries pertaining to the robot. Some even ask if it is likely to be deployed along the fortified Demilitarized Zone with North Korea.

But the robot, set to be available for sale later this year at an estimated price of $8.3 million, is held back by a power cable and in Yang’s words, it is only “taking baby steps”. Extra work is needed to strengthen its balance and power systems, according to its creators. (nik/kes)

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