Real Russian Robocop? Makers of the AK-47 Unveil Their First Combat Mech

Friday, 24 August 2018 - 11:57AM
Technology
Military Tech
Friday, 24 August 2018 - 11:57AM
Real Russian Robocop? Makers of the AK-47 Unveil Their First Combat Mech
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Image Credit: Screengrab RT/YouTube
The Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov has come a long way from making rifles—not only have they unveiled a new line of electric and hybrid cars, they've announced that they're working on their first combat mech and presented a mock-up version at the recent Army 2018 expo in Russia. According to Kalashnikov, the combat walker is potentially planned for use in both engineering and combat capacities, though the mock-up version doesn't come equipped with any visible weapons.



Unlike MegaBot's Eagle Prime or Suidobashi's Kuratas, the Kalashnikov mech seems to be intended to walk on two legs, much like an AT-ST from Star Wars. It's unclear how Kalashnikov intends to power the mech, as well as what its specs will be when it comes to strength, speed, or armor, but it's probable that any design with actual feet will run into the same problems military officials and engineers have been pointing out for years: first, balancing a machine on two feet is difficult (especially when it's trying to cross rough or muddy terrain), and second, creating a mech out of material that's strong enough to support itself on two legs will usually mean making it heavier and slower.

One of the main problems with the design is that it may be trying to look too much like a human. Though the human body is pretty good at balancing itself and using energy efficiently, it's still difficult to mimic its design from an engineering perspective. One major problem is replicating human muscles—according to Sethu Vijayakumar, from the Edinburgh Centre of Robotics: "You can build something that has up to five joints using these pneumatic muscles. But the moment you try to build a bipedal system out of that, it gets out of control in terms of the electronics, the routing and the wiring."

Kalashnikov will reveal more details about its mech in 2019, but for now, it doesn't seem like the design that will bring mechs out of science fiction and onto the battlefield. Even Jordan Weisman, the creator of the mech-focused sci-fi game Battletech, admits that combat walkers aren't very practical in warfare: "They are a fantastic fantasy, but as a practical military vehicle, the last thing you want to be is tall."
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