Researchers at Hankook Mirae Technology in South Korea have built the world’s first manned bipedal robot.
The machine — reminiscent of the mechs found in the movie Avatar — stands 13 feet tall and took roughly a year to build. It comes equipped with a tough metal exterior and has two metal arms that each weigh over 300 pounds. The robot also can be piloted from the inside, opening up new applications for future research.
While the new technology may seem like nothing more than a science fiction fantasy, scientists report it could have some important real-world applications. For instance, it may allow humans to travel to hard-to-reach or dangerous places where they normally could not go. This could be useful for research or rescue missions.
“Our robot is the world’s first manned bipedal robot and is built to work in extremely hazardous areas where humans cannot go (unprotected),” said Yang Jin-Ho, chairmen for Hankook Mirae Technology, according to Tech Times.
While Hankook Mirae Technology headed the project, they did not work alone. The company also collaborated with Vitaly Bulgarov, a well-known SFX designer in Hollywood who worked on movies like Terminator and Robocop.
So far, the company has spent $200 million on the new project, not including the costly preparation process. While that is a hefty price tag, it could pay off. Many companies — ranging from construction to entertainment — have already expressed interest in the machine and wish to be updated on future models. The possible combat applications for such a device have peaked the military’s interest as well.
However, it will be a while before the robot is ready for wide-scale production.
“The robot is one-year-old so it is taking baby steps,” Jin-Ho added, according to Phys.org. “Just like humans, it will be able to move more freely in the next couple of years.”