New breed of machines could bring about futuristic racing sport
20 September 2017
This new sport will pit players against eachother in an all-electric, off-road running machine called Prosthesis – the first machine of its kind.
This vision is the work of creator Jonathan Tippett and his team of volunteers at the eatART Foundation. The team completed the first flagship machine, Prosthesis, in partnership with Furrion, in early 2017. This led to the formation of Furrion Robotics who will continue to develop the technology and build the new sport of ‘mech racing’!
While at first glance, it looks like an intimidating robot, Prosthesis is actually a responsive, stable and powerful human-controlled exo-bionic platform that amplifies the motions of the pilot. It has no autonomy or gyro-stabilisation, relying on the skills and training of the pilot inside to move them.
Prosthesis is the first machine of its kind, ushering in a new era of large scale, high-performance mech technology. It represents a departure from conventional, human scale exo-bionics, integrating off-road racing technology with industrial motion control to produce an entirely new breed of machine. It was debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
“Prosthesis is the first innovation of our robotics division and we are excited about the potential the future holds,” said Matt Fidler, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Furrion. “Jonathan’s concept started ten years ago as an art project trying to build a machine that you could walk with. From there the idea grew to develop a brand new human skill (mech racing) that would explore the relationship between man and machine. We think athletes will be excited about the challenge of the new mech racing category and are proud to be the innovators of a new sport.”
Prothesis stands at nearly 15ft tall, 18ft wide and weighs more than 8,000 pounds. As the flagship competitor in mech racing, Prothesis will eventually be able to run up to 21mph, jump over obstacles and run for up to two hours on a single charge. The frame is made out of chromoly steel, a high-performance alloy used in sports and aerospace. Both durable and agile, it is capable of tackling any terrain.
“Mech racing will be unlike anything anyone has ever seen before,” said Tippett. “We feel this is a sport whose time has come. People have been dreaming of large-scale, high performance exo-bionic machines for decades and we’re excited to have the world’s first. While the mech started as my dream, it would not have been possible without the support of the eatART Foundation, our academic partners, corporate donors, countless volunteer hours and of course the team here at Furrion Robotics. The mech will live here in Elkhart and we will continue to train over the summer. We will work to advance its’ speed and agility because as you can imagine, it takes hundreds of hours of training and practice to get an 8,000 pound mech to move as one with the pilot!”
Prosthesis represents the inception of a new, large scale exo-bionic technology platform with an exciting future ahead. Furrion believes the future belongs to electric power systems, and it is committed to being leaders in the development and application of that technology in conjunction with Furrion’s Net-Zero platform. With that in mind, the mech was designed to be 100 percent electric powered. It will also be outfitted with Furrion’s Vision S observation camera systems for safety and a secondary vantage point.
Prosthesis is just the first product from the Furrion Robotics division with more to come. Furrion will continue to innovate with the creation of smaller and more agile mechs allowing the racer greater flexibility and eventually a production model that athletes can purchase for mech racing. Furrion Robotics is a research initiative focused on the development of large scale, high-performance exo-bionic technology. Furrion Robotics is pioneering a new breed of human-piloted, electric-powered mechs.