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Sci-Tech

One small step for man, one giant step for robot suit with man inside

A South Korean robot similar to the one imagined in the film "Avatar" takes its first steps.

When you mention South Korean tech companies, the name Hankook Mirae Technology isn't the first to come to mind. But on Tuesday, the company made its 13-foot, 1.5-ton manned robot, the Method-1, take a step -- as shown in the YouTube video above.

The robot would be more accurately described as a large robot powered-suit. As reported by The Telegraph, a pilot sits inside the robot's torso to make limb movements, which are mimicked by the robot.

It's no coincidence that the suit bears a close resemblance to the military robots from the movie "Avatar." That's because one of the designers, Vitay Bulgarov, has worked as a robot designer on films like "Transformers" and "RoboCop" as well as the upcoming "Ghost In A Shell."

The first thing you notice about the Method-1 is its size -- apparently the ground shakes with each step it takes. But there are many possibilities for how such a large robot could be used to solve real-world problems.

Bulgarov wrote in a post on Facebook that one real-world application might include mounting the top part of the robot onto a wheeled platform. "A modified version of that is already in development," he said, "and is planned to help in restoration of Fukushima disaster area."

Bulgarov also posted two videos to his Facebook page. One shows him operating the 286-pound (130-kilogram) arms.

Hankook Mirae hopes to have the robot suit ready for sale by the end of 2017. Its cost? 10 billion won ($8.3 million).

Hankook Mirae and Vitay Bulgarov didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

hanook-mirae-robot-2.jpg

The ground shakes when the Method-2 takes a step.

Hankook Mirae Technology