Exoskeletons, power suits, and iron suits in science fiction have served as the inspiration for many engineers and engineering projects over the years. This is certainly the case at [Hacksmith Industries], where Hackaday alum [James Hobson] has been building a massive mechanical exoskeleton since January 2019, inspired by the P-5000 Power Loader from the Alien movies. (Video, embedded below.)
Unlike the movie version, the [Hacksmith] power loader is not bipedal but built on top of the chassis of a small tracked skid-steer loader. Its existing hydraulic power unit also feeds all the upper body hydraulic cylinders. The upper body maintains the basic look of the movie version and was built from plasma-cut steel sections that fit together with a tab and slot system before being welded. Each arm has five degrees of freedom, controlled by proportional hydraulic valves. The power loader is controlled by an industrial grade control system based on the Raspberry Pi, running ROS.
Every single actuator is capable of applying enough force to kill, so safety is an important consideration in the design. It has emergency stop buttons mounted in several locations, including on a wireless remote. The ROS controller monitors the position of every cylinder using string potentiometers for closed-loop control, and to trigger the emergency stop if an actuator goes out of bounds. The power loader can be controlled by the onboard pilot using a pair of simulator flight controller joysticks, or remotely using a PS4 controller.
[Hacksmith Industries] is clear about the fact that they are building multi-ton power loaded for fun and entertainment, not because it’s necessarily practical or a commercially viable product. However, other exoskeletons have proven that they are a viable solution for reducing fatigue and risk of injury for industrial workers, and carrying heavy loads in rough terrain.
Continue reading “Building A Multi-Ton Power Loader For Fun” →
Fair warning that [Freerk Wieringa]’s videos documenting his giant non-electric robot build are long. We’ve only watched the first two episodes and the latest installment so far, all of which are posted after the break. Consider it an investment to watch a metalworking artist undertake an incredible build.
The first video starts with the construction of the upper arm of the robot. Everything is fabricated using simple tools; the most sophisticated tools are a lathe and a TIG welder. As the arm build proceeds we see that there are no electronic controls to be found. Control is through hydraulic cylinders in a master-slave setup; the slave opens a pneumatic valve attached to the elbow of the arm, which moves the lower arm until the valve closes and brings the forelimb to a smooth stop. It’s a very clever way of providing feedback without the usual sensors and microcontrollers. And the hand that goes at the end of the arm is something else, too, with four fingers made from complex linkages, all separately actuated by cylinders of their own. The whole arm looks to be part of a large robot, probably about 3 or 4 meters tall. At least we hope so, and we hope we get to see it by the end of the series.
True, we’ve seen terrifyingly large robots before, but to see one using fluid power for everything is a treat.
Continue reading “Giant Robot Arm Uses Fluid Power, Not Electronics” →
Well, that’s it. If SkyNet goes live once this 4-meter tall Avatar-style mech suit is in production, we’re all doomed.
Named [Method-2], the bipedal giant towers over the engineers testing it at Korea’s Hankook Mirae Technology, where they appear to have done everything possible to make this thing look terrifyingly awesome. The first video below shows the mech with a pilot on board, putting the arms through their paces. We count at least six degrees of freedom on each arm, not including the five digits on each hand that look like they could punch through a brick wall. Later in the video we see a tethered walking test with no pilot, but we also found a webcam video that purports to be the first walk with a pilot. Either way, the 1.5-ton machine shakes the floor with every step.
This is still a development phase project, as evidenced by the fact that the mech seems to be getting its power from an umbilical. But this company has dumped a lot of money into this thing, and we’d bet they intend to capitalize on it. Once it can run untethered, though, watch out. Until then, we’ll settle for this mecha-baby costume.
Continue reading “Say Hello To Our New Robot Overlords” →