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Humans Could Become Hulking Racing Machines Inside These Giant Exoskeletons

The Prosthesis is a design for a two-story-tall “anti-robot” that is controlled by a person’s movements inside. And then you race other giant robots. Is this the future of sport?

At first glance, the Prosthesis looks like a nightmare from the future. In renderings for this two-story-high, 3.75-ton “anti-robot,” you see a monster machine stomping through everything in its path.

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But its inventor insists the Prosthesis is made for good. Jonathan Tippett, a Vancouver artist and engineer, says he’s building an alternative racing machine–a rival to Formula One–that more closely aligns man and technology. Prosthesis is controlled by a person strapped inside a exoskeleton. The pilot moves an arm, and the arm of the machine moves with it–until a person is running along with a giant hunk of metal.

Tippett calls it an “anti-robot” because the Prosthesis isn’t autonomous: The driver is always in control. “It can’t walk or balance or do anything by itself,” he says. “It’s completely human-controlled. The whole point of building this machine is to create a new experience for the user, or the athlete, inside. The machine is built for humans, by humans.”

Tippett works with a volunteer team at eatART, a studio space in Vancouver. So far, they’ve built a cutdown-sized version of the beast’s Alpha Leg, a downsized prototype leg. Now, they’re looking for $100,000 to complete the whole snorting thing. See their crowd-funding pitch here.


“We’ve built a 2:3 scale prototype leg called the Alpha Leg which has allowed us to develop and refine the lithium-ion power plant, hydraulics, control systems, and human control interface technologies,” Tippett says.

Pilots have already been training to operate Prosthesis using the Alpha Leg. Eventually, he hopes to organize a whole racing circuit, where man-robots can compete against one another. It already sounds better than Formula One.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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