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Want to drive a giant, four-legged racing mech? This is your chance

Robot exoskeletons exist in 2020, but most of them don’t look like the ones you see in the movies. That’s all well and great if you’re looking for a robot assistive suit that could fit under your clothes without too much added bulk. However, if you always dreamed of piloting something that looks like it marched out of the world of StarCraft or Warhammer 40,000, you’d better look elsewhere.

Like, in the direction of Prosthesis.

A giant, powered exoskeleton that claims to be the biggest four-legged creation of its kind, this enormous mech has been in development for 14 long years. It was designed to take part in a global Mech Racing League, pitting world-class athletes against each other in powered mech suit obstacle courses. While that’s still a work in progress, its creators are now giving ordinary members of the public the chance to take the giant robot for a spin. So long as they’re willing to pay up via Kickstarter, that is.

“Through this Kickstarter, people are being offered the rare opportunity to strap in to the mech as a pilot, come to see it live in person, or buy some limited-edition swag,” Jonathan Tippett, founder, CEO and “chief test pilot” at Furrion Exo-Bionics, told Digital Trends. “By supporting this campaign, you will go down in history as one of the people who joined our pioneering team in our quest to make mech racing a reality.”

Prosthesis robot
Furrion Exo-Bionics

Although Tippett mentions “limited-edition swag” (and there’s no shortage of patches, stickers, hats, and more on offer), for most people the big hook is going to be the chance to ride a real-life mech. This will set you back an early bird pledge cost of $2,000 Canadian (around $1,500 in U.S. dollars) for the opportunity to come to Vancouver, British Columbia, for a mech training session.

As ever, our usual warnings apply about the risks inherent in crowdfunding campaigns. Right now, the biggest question mark for most people would seem to be mech training in the time of coronavirus. Tippett seems to think those concerns won’t stop this from happening, however.

“Mech pilot training will require pilots to travel to B.C., Canada,” he said. “At present, the Canada [and] U.S. border is closed to nonessential travel until September 21. We anticipate training will take place over the spring, summer, and fall of 2021. We’re optimistic that travel restrictions between Canada and the U.S. will be loosened up at some point in that range, allowing people to travel to Canada. The activity of mech pilot training is very compatible with social distancing. Pilot and coach are several meters apart by definition, and disinfecting surfaces between pilots is a simple operation.”

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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