Giant mech suits are normally something you'd see in science fiction or the movies: Think of the Power Loader in Aliens. Prosthesis is ready to change all that. It's a real-life, powered exoskeleton with a human at the controls -- and it's ready to race.
Many exoskeletons are wearable machines that can augment human strength, or help people regain mobility. Designed and built by Furrion Exo-Bionics, Prosthesis is a 9,000-pound quadruped, or four-legged machine, that can lift a car, climb over boulders and run in the snow. But the ultimate goal is to pioneer an entirely new sport of mech racing.
Imagine these giant mech suits racing around a parkour course with obstacles and heavy objects to push or drag, and you have an idea of where this sport is headed. "The goal was to make the most rudimentary walking machine possible," says co-founder and chief test pilot Jonathan Tippett. "We ended up with four legs because the pilot has four limbs, and the machine has the wide stable form factor that it has so that it's easy to balance."
Prosthesis has been in development for over 10 years, but now it's time for the mech suit to make its public debut. The first professional athlete to sit in the driver's seat was Cassie Hawrysh, a Canadian champion skeleton racer. During an intense three-day training session learning to control the mech, she managed to take a step in the quadruped. "That was like a monumental event for us," she says, "but I also fell flat on Prosthesis' face a couple times, which was hilarious and terrifying because you're falling from height."
Watch the video on this page for more details on the mech suit and what it's like to pilot this 15-foot-tall machine.
The best part? You can sign up to become a mech pilot yourself. Furrion Exo-Bionics will be offering anyone the chance to be an alpha pilot through a crowdfunding campaign.