What has two seven-foot arms and can bench press 1,000 lbs of radioactive waste? This guy: the Guardian GT. It’s the creation of robotics company Sarcos, and is, frankly, one of the best bots we’ve seen so far in 2017. It’s been under development for years but is now available for customers to order for an undisclosed amount.
The Guardian GT looks immense, but its real selling points is its dexterity. Two sensitive controllers are used to guide the huge robot arms, which follow the operators’ motions precisely. To get a closer look at the action, video feed from a camera mounted on top of the Guardian GT is sent to a headset worn by the operator. And the controllers also include force feedback, so the controller gets an idea of how much weight the robot is moving. Each arm can pick up 500 lbs independently.
The total effect is to make the human operator feel like they are the robot. “The distance between those stereo cameras and the shoulder is the same ratio as you have in your own human body,” Sarcos CEO Ben Wolff told Wired. “So it’s very intuitive. That kinematic equivalent concept enables a brand new operator with no training at all to be able to get into the machine.” Sarcos also sells a robotic snake for mapping and inspections jobs (the Guardian S), and is working on powered exoskeletons (the Guardian XO and XO MAX).
The Guardian GT’s control system allows it to take on delicate tasks, like pushing buttons and flipping switches. The video feed also means it can be used remotely. Combined, these attributes make the robot perfectly suited for dangerous jobs like cleaning out nuclear power plants. An onboard power source also means it can be operated without a tether, roaming independently for hours a time.
Sarcos thinks the Guardian GT isn’t just a speciality tool — the company claims it’s the future of heavy industry. By this, they mean that it combines the power of a robot with the flexibility of a human, allowing less people to do more work. Working alongside robots, says the company, is better than having robots working without us.