Videos featuring a mech robot have gone viral on YouTube and have circulated in other social networking sites. Vitaly Bulgarov, a concept artist who has worked on movies such as Transformers and games such as Starcraft II, said he is collaborating with a Korean company to build a bipedal manned robot.
Bulgarov calls his creation the "METHOD-1," a 13-foot-tall humanoid robot. The videos showed the robot walking around a lab, with a human pilot inside its torso controlling the upper limbs of the mechanism through arm gestures. The robot shows a remarkable amount of dexterity from the way it moves its arms to the way it shifts its weight while walking, immediately putting to mind the robots we have seen from the likes of Avatar and Transformers.
In a Facebook post, Bulgarov said that the robot is being built with no purpose in mind behind it, other than to make an attempt at creating a robot that is similar to those found in movies and comic books. The plan was "to build a reliable robotic platform that can be used effectively in various utilitarian applications."
Robot Videos Could Be A Hoax
Other observers remain skeptical of Bulgarov's claims, considering the designer's ties to the visual effects industry. In a report on LiveScience, contributor Stephanie Pappas believes "some skepticism might be in order."
Korea Future Technology, the Korean company that Bulgarov said is helping him make the robot, virtually has no presence online and is a complete unknown to the robotics community. All online mentions of the said Korean company came from Bulgarov's pronouncements.
"If you look at this from a Western point of view, then yeah, that might seem strange, but in that part of the world, the culture is a little different," Bulgarov said when asked about the company's lack of online information. "The company wants to make something first before they advertise themselves."
What's even stranger is the fact that Bulgarov's official website also mentions an "ongoing concept design exploration centered around the idea of a fictional robotics corporation."
Giant Humanoid Robot 'Possible'
The technology shown in the YouTube videos is possible, according to Ronald Fearing, an electrical engineering professor who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. Fearing himself has already created a robot, but found METHOD-1 to be too top-heavy. The professor also said that this kind of technology would cost around $20 million and a couple of years to make.
While robotics companies have been known to build robots without any practical application and only to showcase the technology behind it, Fearing finds the Bulgarov robot a bit too extreme. Bulgarov's robot is indeed a visual spectacle, and it would be a shame if it turned out to be a hoax or lame attempt at viral marketing.