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Awesome fire-breathing dragon is world's largest walking robot

At 30 feet tall and 51 feet long, Tradinno is a gargantuan mechatronic beast you don't want to mess with.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read
Robot dragon
What would Bilbo say? Fire-breathing dragon Tradinno loves the spotlight. Guinness World Records

Broadsword? Check. Shield? Check. Liquid courage? Gulp! OK, you're ready to take on the dragon.

At nearly 30 feet high, this fire-breathing monster looks unreal enough, but it's very real indeed. It's also the world's largest walking robot, according to the new "Guinness World Records 2014" book, released Thursday.

Built by Germany's Zollner Elektronik AG, an electronics maker, Tradinno the dragon is 51 feet long and has a wingspan of 40 feet.

Tradinno, a play on "tradition" and "innovation," can walk around, flap its leathery wings, and breathe fire from its mouth and nostrils. The 11-ton mechatronic beast may not be able to fly, but it sure can make an impression.

The dragon is a complex radio-controlled quadruped running on a 2.0-liter turbo diesel engine with two hydraulic circuits, 272 hydraulic valves, 65 animated axles, and 238 sensors, according to Zollner. It has 984 feet of hydraulic lines, more than 4,200 feet of electric cables, and 360 feet of pneumatic lines.

Add to that nine modular control units, each with Texas Instruments digital signal processors and Fujitsu communication microcontrollers.

Getting the dragon to walk properly was no mean feat. Each leg has seven mobile degrees of freedom, allowing it to walk around corners and even move laterally. The company says it took out a patent on the control concept in combination with the walking algorithm.

Robot dragons and other Guinness greats (pictures)

See all photos

Tradinno's wings are sheathed in polyurethane and reinforced plastic. Its main function is to act in a play, so veins are filled with 21 gallons of stage blood, while 24 pounds of liquid gas allow it to spit fire.

When the monster isn't strutting its stuff, it gets from place to place on an all-wheel drive 2.0-liter turbo diesel transport vehicle. Not as cool as flying but still pretty boss.

"Realizing a radio remote-controlled, outdoor-capable four-legged robot walking robot in unheard-of dimensions, was what really motivated the developers and designers at Zollner Elektronik AG," the company writes.

"The other fascinating aspect for the team was the fact that the mechatronic system was to star in the oldest German folk play."

That piece of theater would be the Bavarian town of Furth im Wald's play "Drachenstich." I've never heard of it either, but now I definitely want tickets.

Check out more pics of Tradinno -- along with other wacky record holders from Guinness -- in the gallery above. You can also see Tradinno in action in the vid below.