At 4.5 metres (15 feet) tall and weighing 4,000 kilograms (9,000 pounds) a mechanical suit may become an athlete uniform of the future.
A company in Vancouver, British Columbia is blending sports and robotics in a very big way with Prosthesis: The Anti-Robot. The four-legged mech suit can lift a car, climb over boulders and run in deep snow but it’s true calling is competitive racing.
The athlete, or pilot, wears Prosthesis like a giant metal suit and is solely responsible for all of the suit’s movements. The pilot’s arms and legs move the four massive steel legs without the help of steering wheels, joysticks or foot pedals. On its own the suit is unable to walk or even balance itself. This is why it has been nicknamed the Anti-Robot.
Prosthesis’ 400-kg (1,000-pound) steel limbs are moved by two hydraulic pumps that draw power from electric motors run by a battery pack that uses 350 kg (770 pounds) of lithium-ion batteries. That translates to about 200 hp.
The first professional athlete to put the mech suit to the test was Cassie Hawrysh, a Canadian sledding champion. As a member of Team Canada, Cassie is used to hurtling down an icy track at 140 km/h on a skeleton bobsled. During her three days of training with Prosthesis she was successfully able to make the transition from skeleton to exo-skeleton and perform basic skills such as push-ups, standing, falling, transferring weight, and even taking a step.
In the future the creators of the suit would like to see a global racing league where athletes wear these suits to compete against one another as they race across challenging all-terrain obstacle courses. Like any other sport it would be the human athlete’s skill and training that would determine the winner.
In 2020 the Guinness World Book of Records recognized Prosthesis as the largest tetrapod exoskeleton in the world.