Robotics

13-foot-tall Korean mech suit aims to assist with Fukushima cleanup

13-foot-tall Korean mech suit ...
Standing 13 feet tall, Method-1 is an imposing mech suit from Korea Future Technologies
Standing 13 feet tall, Method-1 is an imposing mech suit from Korea Future Technologies
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Method-1: a lot of engineering is hidden in the mech's giant limbs
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Method-1: a lot of engineering is hidden in the mech's giant limbs
Just some of the servo motors, controllers and cabling required to run a 13-foot tall mech suit 
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Just some of the servo motors, controllers and cabling required to run a 13-foot tall mech suit 
Standing 13 feet tall, Method-1 is an imposing mech suit from Korea Future Technologies
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Standing 13 feet tall, Method-1 is an imposing mech suit from Korea Future Technologies
Method-1's articulating arms and hands
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Method-1's articulating arms and hands
Method-1's hands - very much a humanoid design
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Method-1's hands - very much a humanoid design
Method-1's hands dwarf those of its engineering team
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Method-1's hands dwarf those of its engineering team
Method-1 looks like it's straight off the set of Avatar or Pacific Rim
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Method-1 looks like it's straight off the set of Avatar or Pacific Rim
Method-1: a glimpse of a future industrial mech suit which could see action in the Fukushima cleanup effort as well
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Method-1: a glimpse of a future industrial mech suit which could see action in the Fukushima cleanup effort as well
Moldovan-American designer Vitaly Bulgarov in the cockpit of the Method-1 mech
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Moldovan-American designer Vitaly Bulgarov in the cockpit of the Method-1 mech
A nice set of pins, Method-1!
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A nice set of pins, Method-1!
You'd hate to run into this giant Korean robot suit down a dark alley.
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You'd hate to run into this giant Korean robot suit down a dark alley.
The design and engineering team with an early build
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The design and engineering team with an early build
An early run at Method-1's robot feet
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An early run at Method-1's robot feet
The back of this giant Korean mech suit shows just how much electronics is involved in making a functional robot this size
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The back of this giant Korean mech suit shows just how much electronics is involved in making a functional robot this size
Master designer Vitaly Bulgarov with the Method-1 robot suit
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Master designer Vitaly Bulgarov with the Method-1 robot suit

A Moldovan-American master designer and a Korean robotics company have teamed up to build a giant, 13-foot tall walking mech suit robot that looks like it's just lumbered off the set of Avatar. With fully articulating arms that mimic the pilot's movements, there's more than a touch of the jaeger robots from Pacific Rim in there, too.

You probably don't know Vitaly Bulgarov's name – but you've almost certainly seen his work before. His highly technical, futuristic robot designs have been a key part of recent Terminator, Robocop and Transformers movies, as well as Starcraft and World of Warcraft games.

Now, working with a newly formed company called Korea Future Technology, he's bringing one of his eye-popping designs into real life. Method-1 is a gigantic mech suit standing 13 feet tall, and as well as looking like it's straight out of a video game, it's actually designed to be functional.

The pilot sits in a glassed-in cockpit holding a pair of arm controls, and the robot's arms follow the movements of the pilot's arms as he waves them around in the cockpit.

It's also capable of walking – at least, on flat surfaces – in forward and reverse. In terms of a power source, Method-1 is tethered with a power cable at the moment, as well as hooked to a moving girder on the roof to prevent it from falling over.

Moldovan-American designer Vitaly Bulgarov in the cockpit of the Method-1 mech
Moldovan-American designer Vitaly Bulgarov in the cockpit of the Method-1 mech

Bulgarov says the robot's short-term use cases include industrial indoor applications where tethers won't cause a problem. Another short-term application will see the torso and arms mounted on a wheeled platform with a built-in power source, and this one's slated for clean-up and restoration work at the Fukushima disaster site in Japan.

We're looking forward to speaking with Bulgarov soon, stay tuned for more information – and check out the gallery for a bunch of detail photos.

Source: Vitaly Bulgarov

18 comments
Milton
incredible!
DreadUK
Too bad if he scratches his itchy nose.
BleedingEdge
Awesome. Watching the lateral movement while walking the operator may need motion sickness medicine. Wonder what happens to the operator's position if it leans forward to pick something up from the ground. Does it squat vertically or bend forward?
Mihai Pruna
Here's an idea: tether drones on short cables to the robot's torso and use those to stabilize it as it moves, also, to help turn it.. The tethers could also provide power to the drones. The range of motion of the robot's arms could be limited in real time to avoid touching the cables, or the drones could be parked while the robot is stationary and doing work.
habakak
Totally useless at this point. It can barely walk. The act of moving it's arms throws it off balance. The hands and fingers does not seem to be functional. Powering it will require it to be tethered for a long time still - batteries are just too heavy. If it requires a human operator to be within the suit, how would this help at the Fukushima site? I assume it can be remotely controlled. How much weight is it supposed to be able to lift or move? All this being said, it is an incredible feat of engineering and technology. Obviously these are early days for robots and machines like these. We need breakthroughs in energy storage to really make these things feasible. And artificial muscles that contract when current is applied instead of all these heavy motors, pulleys and belts. For industrial uses maybe. But as far as exoskeletons goes (I know this is NOT one or supposed to be one) it will need to be much lighter weight and mimic natural muscles more.
DanRiley
It's an exoskeleton, yes, but not a 'robot'. Back in the 60's this concept was called a 'man-amplifier'. DreadUK good one!
guzmanchinky
Still not sure you'd want to put a human anywhere near radiation, a remote controlled robot can do this too, can't it?
Kpar
How about giving some credit to the original thinker who invented the idea? Robert Anson Heinlein, and his Mobile Infantry suit in the novel "Starship Trooper" (the book was FAR superior to the awful movie!).
LandRoverRock
Wasn't there something similar in one of the Alien movies or another Sci/FI underwater themed movie?
FábioAlvesCorrêa
Why legs? Why not treadmills or even wheels?