Inside the Giant Mech Suit Made for Racing

Giant mech suits are the stuff of science fiction, but one inventor and his team are hoping to make them a reality. The result isn’t your typical mech, as these behemoths are built to race.

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The machine itself started as an art project for Burning Man. Mechanical engineer, Jonathan Tippett, wanted to build a machine that celebrated human skill and augmented it using technology but still kept a human at the heart. From the original art project, the idea of a racing league or a sports mech evolved when Jonathan started to try and articulate why it was so important to build this machine that was human-controlled and that required skill and celebrated the pilot inside.

2006 was the first sketch Jonathan did of the machine and back then, it was very gorilla shaped. For about five or six years, he did sketches and CAD and engineering trying to figure out the mechanics of how to make a machine of that scale. Then around 2010, Jonathan and a team of engineers started building the predecessor to Prosthesis. They called the machine the Alpha Leg.

The Alpha Leg was a wild bucking bronco of a machine. It proved the basic concept that you could control an exoskeletal mech suit from inside while you were being hurled around by it and you wouldn’t lose control of the thing. Using the Alpha Leg as a jumping-off point, Prosthesis was then built over the course of a year. By 2017, it was ready for its worldwide debut at CES.

Sources Cited

Prosthesis is a real-life mech suit you can pilot, as the Power Loader… “Many exoskeletons are wearable machines that can augment human strength, or help people regain mobility. Designed and built by Furrion Exo-Bionics, Prosthesis is a 9,000-pound quadruped or four-legged machine, that can lift a car, climb over boulders and run in the snow. But the ultimate goal is to pioneer an entirely new sport of mech racing.”

A Beginner’s Guide to Mecha… “Mecha is a genre of Japanese manga and anime that heavily features or focuses on mechanical innovation. Robots, cyborgs, androids, and space stations, for example, all fall under the wide umbrella of mecha; however, robots are usually the primary focus.”

ExoSkeleton racing. Yes, it’s a thing.… “This summer, I became the first professional athlete to strap in as pilot of a 4.5 meter high, five-meter wide, 4,000-kilogram exoskeleton mech-suit. Prosthesis: The Anti-Robot, is actually something you could try, too.”

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