A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
We're Building a Giant Piloted Walking Robot and So Can You!
With the proceeds from this Kickstarter, our team of professional roboticists will finish the design, and build the first prototype for the Mk I walker: a lightweight mech that you can build in your own garage. The best part is we're making our complete plans and build guides available to the public, so you can build one too! We're taking on the technical risk now to prove out the design in practice, so it will be much easier for you to build yours.
What Can You Do With a Walking Robot?
Good question! Look at nature. Can you name any animal that moves using wheels? Legs are the best solution for traversing extremely rough terrain, and nature figured this out long ago. A legged machine gives us the ability to travel where no wheeled machine could ever go. This means there are innumerable uses for a walking robot like the Mk I including serious uses like search and rescue, construction, forestry, and defense, to more playful uses like off-roading and mecha sports (combat robot dueling).
Why Do This?
A tremendous amount of research has been invested in walking machines in the last 15 years, and great strides have been made. But legged machines are still way too expensive for most people to get a hold of, and they are relegated to the research lab, so we intend to change that. Our design is specifically cost-conscious and low-complexity, and meant for the real world - not a research lab. Our goal is to make this build accessible to an average mechanically-inclined person with a reasonable budget, so that everyone can enjoy the fun and excitement of legged robots like we do. We can even envision selling kits if there's enough interest (stretch goal). So let us know how cool you think this is by supporting us here on Kickstarter!
From Robotech to Pacific Rim, Transformers to MechWarrior Online, our team shares a love for giant robots. The unique coolness factor of walking robots such as the Imperial walkers on Hoth, Ripley fighting the Alien Mother, and innumerable Saturday morning cartoons, have long captivated audiences young and old. We live in a world of increasing virtual experiences, but with this project, our team makes the virtual a reality.
What Success Means For You and the World at Large
Supporting this Kickstarter demonstrates public interest in walking vehicles for entertainment and recreation. Since we will be making our final Mk I design available to the public, we encourage other builders and hopefully even grassroots walking robot competition leagues.
What Your Support Provides Our Team
A successful campaign allows us to demonstrate our robot building skills. Of course, the lessons learned during the build apply directly to the larger follow-on efforts of the larger Mark II, and the more complex Mark III.
Cool Idea, but is it Realistic?
Absolutely! We took great pains to have a realistic design concept, opting for a quadruped body shape to maximize stability without sacrificing speed. We anticipate speeds around 15mph on most terrains, while remaining very hard to topple. We elected to reduce our project risks by reconfiguring construction equipment for walking limbs, reducing build time and component cost. Our team dedicated the next few months to focus on the Mark I build exclusively, no side projects, no distractions. Maximum effort.
We feel confident in our design due to extensive experience. Our team members spent years working on mobile hydraulic robotics at Boston Dynamics, honing our craft by designing and implementing major systems on Big Dog, LS3, Wildcat, Cheetah, Petman, DRC-Atlas, and Next Generation Atlas among others.
Lower Body R&D, and build (excavators) $16,500, 33 days
Body Platform R&D, and build $8,800, 25 days
Ranged Launcher build $3,000, 8 days
Infrastructure (rent, tools, etc) $28,700, NA
Overhead Costs (fees, salaries, etc) $23,000, NA
Estimated Totals: $80,000 over 3 months
How Can You Help?
This Kickstarter is a true kick start, helping to get the ball rolling for the Big Dig Mk I. At a budget of $80,000 we can get the build done in three working months. The excitement for the Mk I will evolve into greater community and sponsor support for the bigger Mk II, culminating in the successful Mk III build.
Funding the Mk I light duty mech gives you a chance to show the world in a real and tangible way your love and support for the idea of real mechs, and mech-based recreation & entertainment. Kick start ubiquitous piloted walking robots.
Inspired by teams like MegaBots, we answered the call, the song we heard in our hearts, to build a giant piloted robot. A combat mech the scale of a MegaBot is a major undertaking in terms of talent, time, and money. We have the experienced team, but need materials and time to make this dream come true. To prove our skill and technology on a small scale, we are looking to you for support in building a low-cost prototype of our Big Dig Mk I walker.
The Fable of the Big Dig
A mech as epic as the Big Dig must have a mythic backstory, right? Right! The "Big Dig" is no exception. We asked our informant, Codename: Pliny, what he knew. His story was revelatory…
Pliny: "Giant mecha once strode the earth alongside dinosaurs and dragons, only to fade into obscurity - but they never disappeared altogether."
Pliny: "Mankind spent great effort to rediscover these ancient titans - Columbus sought them as did the Pilgrims. The American Colonies broke away to find them. It wasn't until Boston's so-called Big Dig Construction Project - itself an elaborate conspiracy concealing the hunt - that the discovery was finally made. A crew stumbled upon an ancient egg chamber quite by accident. Inside they found a delicate mechanical life-form in deep hibernation."
Our team adopted the Little Dig and with your help we will nurture it and guide its growth so it can one day take its place on the world stage.
Enter the SWAG ZONE!
Here are some examples of our rewards. Also, be sure to check out the Big Dig Loyalty Club - we'll never forget those folks who supported us from the start!
Big Dig Loyalty Club Membership
Our Mk. I supporters will always have a special place in our hearts. We greatly appreciate your faith in our Team and your willingness to blaze this trail along with us. By pledging $250 or more, you will be granted membership to our loyalty club, placing you at the forefront of this, as well as subsequent projects. Memberships are available in Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels.
Bronze Level ($250-$499): This level grants you additional updates on the Mk. I and our Team after this Kickstarter. It also entitles you to one reward item from our next Kickstarter.
Silver Level ($500-$9,999): In addition to Team updates, you will receive advanced notice of demos and exhibitions. We will also provide you with two reward items from our next Kickstarter.
Gold Level ($10,000): This level will provide you with personal invitations to Mk. I events, as well as a sneak peek at our next Kickstarter build. Members at this level will also be given the opportunity to participate in our next Kickstarter video.
Risks and challenges
Creating a legged robot at this scale presents a high-level risk.
• We counter that risk with our team of experienced designers, having built similar, but even more complex hydraulic robots for years.
• We also mitigate the high-level design risk by incorporating reconfigured but unmodified off-the-shelf parts as much as possible. When no part is available, we use a minimalist design approach (ie. simple sheet metal design for mobility platform integration).
Timetable risks include unavoidable issues such as part scarcity, shipping problems, breakage of parts, supplier shutdowns during holidays, or unforeseen natural disasters, to name just a few.
• We mitigate these programmatic risks by using trusted local vendors, and employing our detailed design and thorough build plan.
Accurate control of a complicated hydraulic system always presents a challenge. The joints may not move at the required speed or to the precise location needed for a smooth gait.
• Our team worked with hydraulic robots for years, granting a high degree of confidence that the valving and control issues can be solved, but it presents a challenge. In fact, exploring this question may be the most fun of the project!
Excited about giant piloted robots? Let the world know by adding your name to our elite list of backers. Names will be added in the order in which donations are received, and the Wall of Honor may be viewed at www.bigdigrobot.com.
Prefer to be part of the action? Choose this level to receive a handwritten letter detailing a problem our team has encountered. We will also include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) enabling you to return your insightful suggestions to us.
Bronze Loyalty Level! We appreciate your dedication to the advancement of robotics. In addition to some great Mk. I trainee gear, you will be added to the Bronze Level of the Big Dig Loyalty Club. For more information on the Big Dig Loyalty Club, please refer to the Swag Zone section on the left-hand side of your screen.
Bronze Loyalty Level! Expand your mech skills by watching our Team respond to backer provided questions. You will also be given the opportunity to provide our Team with your input during the Mk. I build.
Silver Loyalty Level! Join your fellow insiders for a unique glimpse into our build with a group question and answer session. During this live streaming event, Big Dig insiders will have the opportunity to interact with our Team, who will provide the answers to your most pressing questions.
Silver Loyalty Level! Have you always dreamed of building your own mech? By pledging at this level, you will be one step closer once our Team provides you with professional plans to build your own version of our Mk. I.
Silver Loyalty Level! Your commitment to robotics is amazing. We want to meet you and your fellow pilots for an up close and personal demonstration of the Mk. I. During this event, whether you are present in person or virtually, you will have the opportunity to pilot the Mk. I.
Gold Loyalty Level! You are our hero; a real champion for the advancement of mech. As a friend of the Mk. I, you will receive individualized behind the scenes access to our facility, Team, and of course, the Mk.I. Once the build is complete, you will have the opportunity to pilot the Mk. I for a target practice session.