OK, so there isn’t a “neural handshake” or a giant sword cutting a kaiju in twain in the video above, but builder Danny Benedettelli is in fact controlling a robot using an exosuit of his own design. And it’s all made out of LEGOs.
Benedettelli started the design of this tiny jaeger four years ago, dubbing it his “Cyclops” project. It runs by taking bluetooth commands sent via exosuit manipulations and putting them through Lego Mindstorms NXT hardware and an Android app Benedettelli designed himself. He moves the suit, which transmits those movements wirelessly to Cyclops, which in turn whirls its mini motors to match.
In robotics lingo, Benedettelli’s set up is known as a remote manipulator — a device controlled by a human operator via mechanical or electronic linkages. Remote manipulators have been used for decades by everything from heavy industry to radioactive science labs to NASA. So while Benedettelli isn’t exactly innovating conceptually, by making a remote manipulator out of LEGOs, he has shown that both scale and cost can easily come down. And that LEGO robotics is awesome.
And other than the enormous cost, there isn’t a conceptual hurdle between scaling something like the tiny Cyclops up into a Pacific Rim-style jaeger, just bigger motors, stronger materials, and maybe a world-ending monster or five to prod Congress for funding.