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Furrion Robotics’ 8,000-pound Prosthesis mech takes a big step toward the future

Will Nicol
Mechs have long seemed trapped in the realm of sci-fi, but Furrion Robotics hopes to make a functional one. The company's plans go beyond building a mech, however; cofounders Aaron and Matt Fidler want to create a mech racing league.

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Many a child grows up dreaming of the day when they can pilot a giant robot (or mech, to be precise), only to discover that, like flying cars and blaster pistols, such a thing remains in the realm of science fiction. Naysayers will claim giant mechs aren’t feasible, but that pessimism hasn’t dampened the dreams of inventors who hope to one day make a colossal, walking suit of armor capable of defending the Earth against alien invasions — or even more mundane tasks. Furrion Robotics is going full-steam ahead with research into mechs. Its Prosthesis mech was one of the coolest things at CES 2017, and although the first test run was brief, to say the least, it’s still an exciting project.

Furrion co-founders Matt and Aaron Fidler stopped by Digital Trends’ CES 2018 booth to talk about their creation. Last time Digital Trends checked in with the Prosthesis, it could only tremble. New footage from Furrion now shows the mech taking full steps across a desert landscape. That’s good progress, especially since the Fidlers intend the mech for use not in war, but in racing.

“Once we’re happy with the level we’re at with the technology and the human training … the next step is to build a second mech or a third mech, and then within two years, hopefully, we launch the first X1 mech racing league,” the Fidlers said.

The idea for Prosthesis originated with inventor Jonathan Tippett, whom the Fidlers teamed up with to bring the concept to life. It stands 15 feet tall, and weighs aboau 8,000 pounds. Given its mass, it should come as no surprise that it doesn’t move too quickly, topping out at around 20 mph. That doesn’t mean Prosthesis is easy to pilot, however. The mech eschews computers, relying on the human pilot to move the limbs; as such, pilots will need to be athletic to keep the mech moving.

Prosthesis gets about 90 minutes of power from its batteries, depending on the terrain, and so the Fidlers envision “long-haul, A to B races, where you have energy stops along the way, almost like a pit stop in a Formula 1 racing league.”

Prosthesis is still very much a prototype, but its development so far is remarkable. Mechs may seem a pipe dream, but every so often, a dream comes true.