It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Prosthesis

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prosthesis

There isn’t a way to go around it. There is a 15-foot human controlled robot being built by a band of passionate engineers at the eatART Foundation, an educational charity surrounding energy awareness, and its got a name, too. Prosthesis may soon be the newest mechanical resident in the lower mainland – and it’s planning to look like something out of District 9 and Star Wars combined.

“It has a bit of semantic conundrum because I had to define a new word that describes the machine,” Founder and Chief Engineer, Jonathan Tippett explained. “So I call it a sports robot because it kind of encompasses the athleticism.”

You might just ask what the heck the purpose of a Prosthesis is, the answer might not be as world apocalypse-like but it sure is solid. “There’s a couple of layers, the most acute purpose is to expand the scope of the human experience,” Jonathan said. “Just like someone jumped off a bridge for the first time and turned it into an industry.

Here’s another way to narrow it down, it’s the first of its kind in the world and it’s happening right in the heart of our growing tech hub. “There’s a variety of groups building giant robots, these are all slow, slow, slow moving fully automated machines where you sit in the machine and drive around with a joy stick,” Jonathan detailed. “There’s also a lot of exoskeletal research but it’s typically the army that’s developing it for warfare.” Just because it isn’t guarded by top secret militant agents hidden in a base in the prairies doesn’t mean just any average GI-Joe or Jill can get their hands on steering the mech beast.

“That’s like saying, Oh cool you made a sports car? For ripping around really fast? Can I drive it? No, absolutely not. It takes years of training and is worth a million of dollars. People come up to us and like we ask can you fix it if it breaks,” Jonathan elaborated. “If you want to commit to having that experience the same way you can get trained to fly WWII fighter jet planes, then yeah. Absolutely”

Besides the lack of practice you can have trying to control the 7500 lbs giant piece of tech, there are safety regulations and standards the team strongly abide by. “Kinematic feedback, which is when you’re getting hurled around and your limbs are reacting to accelerations, that’s normal,” Jonathon emphasized. “But when those limbs are controlling the machine at the same time? That’s when we have to make sure that you get to a point where you’re not even thinking about what you’re doing or which leg you’re trying to move.”

Comprised of volunteers, the project drives off of Lego stacking memories and the tears of old enemies. Prosthesis on the other hand, runs just as ecofriendly with mean stare that’s just too-cool-for-fuel. “It’s an all electric power pack there’s no fossil fuels involves,” Lead Engineer, Cole Crocker explained. “This is a very magnificent machine that will get a lot of attention but not just in the sense of it’s engineering but also – well if you can make a giant racing robot that can run through a desert for an hour then you can make anything.”

The team, is trying to make sure everyone can get involved with building the bot. The Prosthesis IndieGogo Campaign, running its last day today, may be a couple of cha-ching’s short on the goal but Jonathan says he’s just happy to keep it within Vancouver borders. But why not spark interest of investors from beyond?

“Because it’s art, not business,” Jonathan stressed. “There’s absolutely no way it can get built eatART foundation if it were about that. The makers, we all live in the same lab, we connect with passionate people. There’s this incredible brain trust that’s been built and that’s way more valuable than money.”

This kind of dedication and Vancouver tech scene madness, isn’t rare, it just needs to stem from the days of a young-grasshopper before you can go off into adulthood building things people have only seen in movies. But for now, for those of us who may not exactly be ready to commit their lives to building an i-Robot future, getting your hands on the perks may be the closest thing you get to getting your mechanics on. The newest perk added onto the campaign, amply named ‘Crush It!’, will have Prosthesis break any item you send that way. One last chance the world may be able to be a part of the building of this first-of-its-kind mechanical monster. “The best thing about the end of this campaign is that I get to get back to working on this machine,” he described. “Once we get our labs set up we’re going to have a 6 months of extensive engineering work and then we sort out what we need to do to make sure things scale properly. A year and bit of extensive sabotage.”

“We just know we’re doing something really cool, and knowing there’s nothing in the world out there like this is really rewarding,” Cole concluded. “But I think it will be at full circle when we see the reaction of people and see this thing running around.”

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Romila Barryman is a mad-scientist of sorts. She experiments with words, concocts diabolical phrases and explores tech like it is territory to be conquered. Her current lab experiments can be seen as founder of the Tech section for VancityBuzz, Lighthouse Labs Alumni and Full Stack Developer.
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