Science 4 min read

The Guardian GT Could Lead to a Real Doctor Octopus

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Some of you might remember an “8-limbed” Spiderman villain known as Dr. Octopus or “Doc Ock”.

For those unfamiliar with the classic villain, Dr. Otto Octavius was a lauded nuclear physicist, among other things. He eventually developed a set of mechanical appendages controlled through a brain-computer interface.

These robot arms were radiation resistant, offered precise movements, very strong, and functioned much like tentacles. They also became operable via a telekinetic connection.

While his appendages are only 6-feet long, a new set of robot arms clocks in at 7 feet long. Sarcos Robotics wants to deliver on the promise of that distinctive robot from Aliens.

The new Guardian GT is a crucial step in evolution to that end goal.

image of Sigourney Weaver operating the Caterpillar P-5000 for article about Dr. Octopus and Sarcos Robotics Guardian GT entitled 7-Foot-Long Robot Arms: The Guardian GT Could Be a Real Doctor Octopus
Aliens | 20th Century Fox via

Loader Bots With 7-Foot Long Arms That Mimic Human Motion

WIRED referred to the Guardian GT as “full-tilt bonkers” — especially in comparison to The Caterpillar P-5000. In the film Aliens, Ripley uses the robot to move heavy equipment (and later, kick the crap out of a xenomorph).

You also see similar creations in the video games series called Borderlands. But these don’t compare to the Guardian GT’s potential applications. The design is also a bit different.

The Guardian GT isn’t just robot arms or a mech suit. It’s a fully functioning robot operated by a human. It features two arms for various tasks.

Each limb can lift up to 500 pounds and spin or otherwise manipulate objects. While the manipulation is limited so far, imitating human motion isn’t exactly easy.

Innovators in the realm of prosthetics have known this true fact for decades. Picking up a more delicate or difficult to grasp object is a wonder of biology. The articulation that master pianists or surgeons exhibit is nothing short of miraculous.

Mimicking the micrometer adjustments human hands make with robot digits is the obstacle. But Sarcos Robotics isn’t afraid of the challenge.

What Else can the Guardian GT do?

Dual cameras on a high mount give the operator a solid field of view when operating the Guardian GT. Durable wheels give it the power to traverse various types of terrain. It is, admittedly, just a little intimidating though.

Apart from looking like the dark timeline Wall-E, the robot from Sarcos Robotics displays kinematic equivalence. Its similarity to the human form affords it extra dexterity.

It isn’t like an exoskeleton where you wear it as you operate it. It is more like operating a bigger version of yourself. This might seem problematic when it comes to seeing what you want to grasp, but not being able to feel it.

Good thing the Guardian GT comes equipped with force feedback which allows the operator to feel what the robot feels. Using one or both of its two hands, an operator can utilize the custom-built appendages for a variety of tasks.

Similarly to the Dr. Octopus appendages, the Guardian GT only has three fingers on each hand. But, unlike Dr. Octopus who controls his limbs with his mind, the operator of the Guardian GT feels the effects.

When the Robot Lifts Items, you Feel it (no….Really)

Pairing with the force feedback, the Guardian GT allows the operator to feel weight.

So, when a limb lifts a 250-pound object, the operator won’t feel the full force. However, thanks to the robot, they will feel an impression of the weight in their hands. This feature allows for smooth movement as opposed to slinging heavy objects wherever.

This kind of dexterity and safety measure is necessary if construction site automation is to happen. Robots such as the Guardian GT would be perfect for just a job and they still require a human operator.

But the Guardian GT also has increased mobility, making it a solid option for dangerous work. Exploring irradiated or otherwise harmful environments becomes a much simpler task.

Don’t Worry: The Guardian GT Isn’t Alone

Many other similar robots are in the works, but the Guardian GT has a peer: the Guardian S Robot. With applications ranging from SWAT to Hazmat to simple inspections, both bots are harbingers of an interconnected automated future.

Luckily, the operators of both don’t need to worry about fusing the controls to their bodies. So far, that kind of fate can only befall comic book characters like Dr. Octopus.

Could a Guardian GT take on a xenomorph or would Riley be alien food without the Caterpillar P-5000?

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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