'Guardian GT' Robot Is a Heavy-Lifting Extension of Your Own Arms

Sunday, 29 October 2017 - 6:21PM
Technology
Robotics
Sunday, 29 October 2017 - 6:21PM
'Guardian GT' Robot Is a Heavy-Lifting Extension of Your Own Arms
YouTube/Sarcos Robotics
From the Power Loader suit in Aliens, to the powered-up exosuits in movies like Elysium and Edge of Tomorrow, it's good to have some extra robotic muscle when you're trying to lift something. 

And while we don't need to fight aliens just yet, we can make use of similar robotic arms for construction and other heavy lifting. Which is what the Guardian GT robot from Sarcos Robotics is for - it's an impressive set of mechanical arms, measuring about seven feet long and capable of lifting 500 pounds each.

That isn't even what makes the GT significant, as those arms are far from the first mechanical muscles which can lift like that. It's the weird setup that makes the Guardian GT so precise with its robot fingers: it's designed with the same proportions as a human upper body, so when a human being is controlling it (as it's not autonomous, it needs somebody at the wheel), it feels like they're controlling a sized-up, larger version of their own arms.



And just to make it feel even more like the pilot is controlling a giant set of human arms, it even contains force feedback, which means the controls push back when the robot is lifting something. Which sounds counterintuitive, since the whole point is to let the robot lift things too heavy for any one person; but having some feedback helps the pilot feel less awkward when lifting, and when the robot lifts 1,000 pounds, you'd feel like you're lifting five.

Ben Wolff, CEO of Sarcos, explains the robot's mechanisms this way:

Opening quote
"The distance between those stereo cameras and the shoulder is the same ratio as you have in your own human body. So it's very intuitive. That kinematic equivalent concept enables a brand new operator with no training at all to be able to get into the machine."
Closing quote


In the meantime, the fact that it's completely non-autonomous should make robot naysayers feel a little more comfortable about how much of a punch it can pack. It's not a particularly intelligent machine, and needs a human controller to direct its arms, making it more of a fancy robotic tool than a typical, sci-fi robot. 

Which is fine, since controlling two massive robot arms is nothing to complain about.
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