Hand of Man Mechanical Claw


[Christian Ristow], a former Muppet creator, has created a much larger puppet that has caught the attention of Popular Mechanics. His Hand of Man is a 27 foot long remote control mechanical claw. Powered by a 90 hp diesel engine, the hydraulic system can be controlled by a glove worn by the operator. This started as a demonstration for a robotics fair, but has recently made appearances at Burning Man, Maker Faire, and had the Grand Champions seat of Popular Mechanic’s Backyard Geniuses Award. While not as practical as some robotic human augmentations, it can crush a car. [Christian] is even allowing anyone who is interested at these events to pick things up and crush them at their own whim.

Various promo videos after the jump.

Burning Man 2008:

Makers-Faire 2009:

Popular Science BG Award Video

[photo Popular Mechanics]

30 thoughts on “Hand of Man Mechanical Claw

  1. @Zymastorik: Shutup. I get comments on my stuff from people like you sometimes. It doesn’t have to serve a direct purpose, it could be for his own education (furthering understanding of how to build things like this) or as a proof of concept for something more practical but similar in workings. Also, it’s a hobby. People have fun building things and showing them off. Your comment also serves no genuine purpose other than to piss people off.

    Full size mechs are on their way. This is sooo cool.

  2. This is seriously bad ass. I love the concept- crushing at a whim is an awesome thing.

    I would be extremely interested to see how the scaled glove control concept works- I have wanted exactly that sort of interface for my own idea like this- but I come nowhere near his scale.

    Seriously bad, bad ass.

  3. I don’t know about making it go faster. That is a lot of mass to be flinging around. You’d have to beef up the arm significantly, which would mean more weight, which would mean bigger hydraulics, etc, etc. It looks like it bounces around quite a bit with just the weight he has on there now.

  4. It’s a very nice piece of art, but it doesn’t bring anybody any closer to building any sort of giant robot/mech/VOTOM/labor/MS/AS/etc. The control system has no feedback in EITHER direction.
    This is not a potential component of a mech in the same way an ice cream cone is not a re-entry vehicle. Both are ablative porous bicones, but looking the part is not sufficient.

  5. The designer of this thing needs to bone up on basic mechanical and control systems engineering. The device looks precariously unstable. Even the smallest movements induce oscillations.

  6. Hi, this is Christian, the designer and builder of the Hand Of Man.
    First off, thanks to those of you who “get it”. You are the people I built this for.
    To those of you who don’t get it, or can’t fathom why anyone would build something like this, which is quite obviously intended for entertainment, I don’t quite know what to say other than that you should probably get out more.
    And to you, Drone, I can say the following: I know a bit about mechanical and control systems engineering, certainly more than most folks who never studied it. And I am willing to actually DO quite a lot with what little I do know. Believe me, I would LOVE to put proportional controls and feedback on this thing, but do you have any idea how expensive that is? I received a generous grant from Burning Man to build the HAND, but in the end it only covered about half of the expense. As a result of this labor of love, I am now more in debt than I have ever been in my life. If one were to very optimistically estimate the cost of converting ONE hydraulic circuit to proportional, with the valve, driver card, and feedback system, at $750, then the HAND, with 10 circuits, would cost $7500. Try living as a broke artist for 20 years and see how feasible that is.
    It’s apparently easy to criticize. Maybe a bit harder to think first.
    Once again, thanks very much to all of you who give positive feedback. Your comments, and the smiles on the faces of the people who actually operate the HAND, make it worth it.

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