Avatar-style S. Korean manned robot takes first baby steps

December 27, 2016
Engineers test a four-metre-tall humanoid manned robot dubbed Method-2 in a lab of the Hankook Mirae Technology in Gunpo, south of Seoul, on December 27, 2016. The giant human-like robot bears a striking resemblance to the military robots starring in the movie "Avatar" and is claimed as a world first by its creators from a South Korean robotic company.

A giant South Korean-built manned robot that walks like a human but makes the ground shake under its weight has taken its first baby steps.

Designed by a veteran of science fiction blockbusters, the four-metre-tall (13-foot), 1.5 ton Method-2 towers over a room on the outskirts of Seoul.

The hulking human-like creation bears a striking resemblance to the military robots starring in the movie "Avatar".

It is claimed as a world first by its creators at Hankook Mirae Technology, a South Korean robotics company, where about 30 engineers were hard at work conducting initial tests Tuesday afternoon.

"Our is the world's first manned bipedal robot and is built to work in extreme hazardous areas where humans cannot go (unprotected)," said company chairman Yang Jin-Ho.

A pilot sitting inside the robot's torso makes limb movements which are mimicked by Method-2, whose metal arms each weigh 130 kilograms (286 pounds).

The robot, more than twice the size of a tall man, is so heavy that it shakes the ground when it takes a step with a loud whirring of motors.

Yang, who dreamed as a child of building his own robot, said he has invested 242 billion won ($200 million) in the project since 2014 to "bring to life what only seemed possible in movies and cartoons".

Building the giant robot was a challenge for the engineers—most of them in their mid and late 30s—as its unprecedented scale meant they had nothing to refer to, said one who declined to be named.

So far, it remains unclear how the robot will be used. Method-2 is seen more as a test-bed for various technologies that will allow the creators to build any type and size of robot in future.

While its enormous size has grabbed media attention, the creators of Method-2 say the project's core achievement is the technology they developed and enhanced along the way.

"Everything we have been learning so far on this robot can be applied to solve real-world problems," said designer Vitaly Bulgarov on his Facebook page.

He has previously worked on film series such as Transformers, Robocop and Terminator.

Engineers test a four-metre-tall robot dubbed Method-2 at a lab in Gunpo, on December 27, 2016

Yang said they have already received inquiries from industries ranging from manufacturing and construction to entertainment.

There have even been questions about its possible deployment along the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone with North Korea.

But the robot, tethered by a power cable and still a bit wobbly on its feet, is far from finished. More work is needed on its balance and power systems, according to its creators.

"The robot is one year old so it is taking ," Yang said.

"Just like humans, it will be able to move more freely in the next couple of years."

He said the robot will be ready for sale by the end of 2017 at a price of around 10 billion won ($8.3 million).

Explore further: How can the smart effect help build human-robot trust?

Related Stories

How can the smart effect help build human-robot trust?

October 19, 2016

Strategic messaging that precedes human-robot interaction can help build the trust needed for effective human-robot communication and positive interaction outcomes, according to a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, ...

Kondo Robot releases a hexapod robot kit (w/ video)

April 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Kondo Robot, a Japan-based robotics company known for selling robotics kits which often end up in robot-on-robot battles, announced the release of a new robot kit. The kit, named the KMR-M6 is a Hexapod Robot, ...

Recommended for you

AI and 5G in focus at top mobile fair

February 24, 2018

Phone makers will seek to entice new buyers with better cameras and bigger screens at the world's biggest mobile fair starting Monday in Spain after a year of flat smartphone sales.

Google Assistant adds more languages in global push

February 23, 2018

Google said Friday its digital assistant software would be available in more than 30 languages by the end of the years as it steps up its artificial intelligence efforts against Amazon and others.

10 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

qwer530710
not rated yet Dec 27, 2016
This is not a military purpose.
Korea Future Technology Representative said in Korean broadcast interview.
The robot has plans to use it as a disaster-oriented robot later on.
qwer530710
Dec 27, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
qwer530710
not rated yet Dec 27, 2016
Some people only focus on specific areas.. I am Korean.. So I know the content better ..
I know this robot will be used for various purposes in the future.
qwer530710
not rated yet Dec 27, 2016
To be honest, If the United States released this robot, there would be a lot of favorable articles..
And this robot would have been rated higher
On some media, this robot is focused solely on military purposes.. I do not understand that point.
krundoloss
5 / 5 (1) Dec 27, 2016
This is so cool, not so much the robot itself, but that the creators just wanted to do it, to make the dream of so many into a reality.

A robot with "legs" is only really useful in an environment where legs offer advantages. I would like them to work towards a robot with wheels also, kind of like a "robot with roller-skates". This would bring many advantages, and versatility that would have value.

Hopefully we can get a power source for all these exo-suits and robots. What we can build is great, but the real and ever-present problem of Powering the thing, continues.
EnricM
not rated yet Dec 28, 2016
This is not a military purpose.
Korea Future Technology Representative said in Korean broadcast interview.
The robot has plans to use it as a disaster-oriented robot later on.


I seriously doubt that it would be of any use. Why use an humanoid if you can use a proper bulldozer?
EnricM
not rated yet Dec 28, 2016

A robot with "legs" is only really useful in an environment where legs offer advantages. I would like them to work towards a robot with wheels also, kind of like a "robot with roller-skates". This would bring many advantages, and versatility that would have value.



You mean something like a vehicle with wheels and governed by two joysticks? Doesn't sound too "robotish" or original to me. In fact the only reason for calling this humanoid thing a "robot" and not an exoskeleton or just a vehicle is that it resembles the idea of a robot from the sci-fi. But IMHO a proper robot should be autonomous.

I would rather call it a "mecha" as this is what it is.
EnricM
not rated yet Dec 28, 2016
To be honest, If the United States released this robot, there would be a lot of favorable articles..
And this robot would have been rated higher
On some media, this robot is focused solely on military purposes.. I do not understand that point.


I disagree. The country of origin doesn't really matter and South Korea actually ranks pretty high in technological credibility.

It's just that the robot is not much more than an expensive gadget. Pretty cool and good for what it is: Being a "proof of concept" for a design and an excellent project for engineering students but just not usable in the real life.

Regarding the "military" focus: I assume that the people who wrote these articles aren't too technically savvy: Put such a huge piece of metal on a battleground, it would last seconds before they blew it to pieces, even if it were perfectly functional and had the armour of a main battle tank.
HeloMenelo
not rated yet Dec 29, 2016
This is not a military purpose.
Korea Future Technology Representative said in Korean broadcast interview.
The robot has plans to use it as a disaster-oriented robot later on.


I seriously doubt that it would be of any use. Why use an humanoid if you can use a proper bulldozer?

a bulldozer does not have hands therefor cannot do things precise and delicate.
Munix
not rated yet Dec 29, 2016
As far as military use, it would rank low because a sniper can take it out with a 50 caliber rifle at an easy 200 meters.

But put oxygen / water tanks on it and it would be very useful to fight large forest fires.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.