“My youth was spent mountain biking and snowboarding and riding motorcycles in the mountains of [British Columbia],” Tippett told Digital Trends. “I also had a fascination with excavators, dinosaurs, trophy trucks, dune buggies. You kind of mix that all together at Burning Man and get yourself an engineering degree, and out comes a racing mech.”
Tippett started planning what would eventually become Prosthesis as far back as 2006. He and his friends organized a yearly local competition in Vancouver, BC, based on the show Junkyard Wars. The challenge one year was to build a walking machine, and Tippett’s team successfully built one in just 48 hours. That experience created a team that built a more advanced walking machine called the Mondo Spider, which gave Tippett crucial experience building this type of machine. Eventually, he and his team built a single prototype leg that led Furrion to sign on for a full prototype.
Still, building a machine is just the start. Actually making it move — and quickly at that — is a much trickier problem. While Prosthesis was hardly graceful at first, Furrion posted a video earlier this week that shows it moving much more like something that could eventually race. Eventually.
“We’ve literally just got this machine walking,” Tippett says. “So, the next stage is to increase the walking speed, which is an engineering challenge and a piloting challenge, because no one has walked one of these things before.”
While other companies are investing heavily in A.I., and machine learning will likely play a part in keeping Prosthesis stable and upright, the idea is that it will remain 100 percent human-controlled. “It’s a sport,” Tippet says. “The whole point was to invent a sport.”