Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

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MetalSucker
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Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by MetalSucker » 06 Dec 2014, 05:22

We keep seeing them in movies/games, they look cool but how would they compete with existing real life units? Where would a bipedal robot be better than a tank or similar vehicle? Current walking robots are mostly clumsy and having the actual tech to build that would better be used for a more agile 4 legged thing that can actually navigate bumpy grounds better.

Is this form over function? I understand exoskeletons and I would probably figure out a role for gigantic sky-scraper tall mechs, but anything in between kind of seems sci fi pr0n.

Not trying to troll but I was reading up on walk cycles and getting the damn thing realistic when using heightmaps is not trivial nor light on the cpu, depending on how 'real' you want to get it and I hardly picture them climbing mountains.
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smoth
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by smoth » 06 Dec 2014, 05:53

In mobile suit gundam the RX-78 has a learning computer which resolves much of the movement stuff and stores common patterns resulting in a series of common solutions. This data is later integrated into all other mobilesuits. Zeon suits straight rely on the pilots to resolve this along with computer aided assistance.

The feet do fan out a bit to reduce the amount of sinking the mobile suit does when all that weight is on the ground. That is also why zeon mobile suits have large feet. Thr RX78 later has a magnetic coating applied to it's joints which works to smooth the movement out because amuro was pushing the suit to distruction via friction(this is actually in the series)

My biggest problem with mechs is the hip connection and the immense weight on them. I also hate battletech mechs because their solution is classically a rod for the hip

Having seen the 1:1 rx78 several times I don't agree with the height being an issue. You'd be amazed how relatively small it is.

So I guess that is my biggest answer, computers and sensors in the feet. I am sure cameras and other areas can handle processing. As far as hip to foot height say walking onto a crate or stairs, I treat the knee, foot and thigh as corners of a triangle, what length does foot to thigh need and then angles etc.. I hate geomitry and never did it in spring, but if I was doing a mech that is what I would do, that and a sort of read ahead system to anticipate the height needed to cross the object. This can be done with a scanning laser as per the darpa competition about a decade ago.
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gajop
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by gajop » 06 Dec 2014, 07:37

MetalSucker wrote:Where would a bipedal robot be better than a tank or similar vehicle?
In buildings. Humanoid robots would be useful if you ever wanted to replace humans but still want/have to use the same tools and environment.

I personally find them way too popular by the general public. Especially in Japan.
I get the feeling that people are equating "robot" to "humanoid robot" more and more.
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knorke
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by knorke » 06 Dec 2014, 08:41

Why in buildings? That is perfect terrain for wheels, everything is nice and flat.
The only obstacles are stairs but those can be climbed with certain tracks or wheels too.

Imo walking on two legs only gives an advantage the legs are used dynamically:
When humans or animals run, they constantly balance the body and limbs in in a way that it helps the motion.
The legs are flexible to bounce some energy back into the next step and constantly adjust to situation.
Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id0i3mTpU30 - Pretty impossible for a wheeled vehicle to do that, especially from a stand-still.
(Some vehicles have dynamic suspensions that could maybe do similiar things, but the more complex those suspension become...the more they similiar they get to legs.)
Sadly the forces that act on the limbs (or are required to move them) during dynamic running do not scale well and eventually become impossible large: If the giant robot's material does not shatter then the ground would.
What would be the practical use for a bi-pedal robot? No idea, it is quite rare that such extrem movement is required. But it combines advances of several different areas, so it makes for a neat showcase.
I guess research in that area also helps to develop better prosthetics, so has some actual use at least. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA_QrkPi3BU
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Kloot
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by Kloot » 06 Dec 2014, 14:20

how would they compete with existing real life units
Very badly.

Modern tanks are low-profile, heavily armored, highly mobile platforms that excel at destroying things (not just static targets) from afar. Lumbering mechs are not.
Where would a bipedal robot be better than a tank or similar vehicle?
Getting disabled or blown up.

Designs with many exposed structural soft spots (joints, ...) and moving parts do not make the best combat vehicles. This is before the square-cube law kicks in, so larger mechs would be even weaker in proportion to their size.

IRL the line of usefulness would be drawn somewhere around powered armor.
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LordMuffe
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by LordMuffe » 06 Dec 2014, 14:31

they would be useful were humans are useful on todays battlefields.

I served in a mountaineer military unit and we had practically no tank-ish units besides a small one that could be transported via helicopter. if there would be a mech which can carry stronger weaponry and armor while still being as maneuverable as humans in that kind of rough terrain, it would be quite a advantage. Same in citys: a tank cant look around a corner and quickly lean in and out, using buildings and other stuff as additional protection.
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MetalSucker
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by MetalSucker » 06 Dec 2014, 17:35

2013 SIGGRAPH "Flexible Muscle-Based Locomotion for Bipedal Creatures"

http://vimeo.com/79098420

I don't see that making it's way into a game without massive changes to 'fake' the physics and have pre-learned motions.

It would however be massive amounts of fun to have drunken units stumble and fall or be pushed by explosions. The outtakes section at the end of the video is worth it.
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Anarchid
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by Anarchid » 06 Dec 2014, 17:44

Bipedal biomechs are the backbone of modern warfare. But would upscaled ones be sufficiently better? Probably not.

There are fundamental issues with making 90-ton things that walk on fragile sticks with narrow contact area.
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raaar
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by raaar » 06 Dec 2014, 20:27

yes

as people said, powered-armor or humanoid robots would intuitively be useful on the battlefield by basically doing the same as a human soldier but carrying the same armor and firepower as a light vehicle (they could duck and prone like human soldiers do to make themselves harder to hit).

when you want to focus your resources on maximizing firepower, armor and fuel efficiency, especially on rough terrain. The amount of material spent on a single light armored vehicle could be enough for several man-sized mechs.

The downside is transport capacity. vehicles are made to carry people and cargo inside, the boxy configuration has more space inside and wheels also fit better into it.

That said, the way bipedal robots are actually represented in most fiction is nonsense :
- obvious weaknesses that would render it useless but no-one in the universe seems to think about
- idiotic weaknesses built into it for plot purposes
- using wtfadvanced technology to make ineffective weapons (like huge mechs with very weird control requirements that go into fist-fights with monsters)

Does anyone really believe humans will send armies of soldiers with mostly machine guns against swarms of huge bugs 200 years into the future?
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knorke
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by knorke » 06 Dec 2014, 20:33

LordMuffe wrote:if there would be a mech which can carry stronger weaponry and armor while still being as maneuverable as humans in that kind of rough terrain, it would be quite a advantage.
Yes, but does such machine nessecarily have to be a bipedal mech?
Same in citys: a tank cant look around a corner and quickly lean in and out, using buildings and other stuff as additional protection.
Humans only have to lean around the corner because their eyes are stupidly attached to head. Imagine you had eyes on a stick that you could just hold around the corner, while your head stays in cover.
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A (future) tank or other robot does not have to lean out of a corner to look around it.
Or maybe the tank/robot just launches some small camera drone to look around the corner but the vehicle itself stays in cover.
So instead of trying to copy the ways of humans, find a different way to do it better.
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PicassoCT
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by PicassoCT » 06 Dec 2014, 21:22

yes... they can walk over terrain were tanks just would sink in or never could be crossed by tanks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzaXMzYFtSM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j87k71kOBis

But the real pro is actual - hit- and detectable surface reduction.

So lets get radical.

What if it is actually just a barell on legs, moving into and ambush position like a rod-cicada. No humans. No Heat.. If it is a one way thing... Not much weight.. from the profile it looks like a fallen tree among trees.

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Its not beautifull, its nothing to feed this "knight stomping a routine that sucks" feeling, but boy does it kill.

Bonus Points if you can drop it out of a plane
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MetalSucker
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by MetalSucker » 06 Dec 2014, 21:29

Look-around-the-corner-gun-thing
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CornerShot

as featured in the recent Expendables movie that I did not just watch
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hoijui
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by hoijui » 06 Dec 2014, 23:32

in the future they just cancel your google account and you die within a week, because you don't know how to/can't get food or water. if it has to go faster, they tell you the light is green while it is actually red when you try to cross the street or feed you poisonous nutrition.
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MetalSucker
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by MetalSucker » 07 Dec 2014, 00:12

Tell us more!
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hoijui
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by hoijui » 07 Dec 2014, 10:10

sorry (and i was not even drunk).
just meant: no need for bipedal killing mechs or walking guns or tanks anymore.
i want as death message (IRL): "% got his google account canceleleled"
or maybe just:
b 1999
g 2020

... but sorry for derail, now on topic..
aehm.. yeah yeah! two legs makes sense for flexibility (walking lots of terrains, crouching, climbing jumping, ducking) which typical game mechs don't have, so they are senseless.
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knorke
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by knorke » 07 Dec 2014, 11:27

Maybe in future they just tell people to die and then they do it?
---
Multi-legged machines have their niches, but this thread is especially about two legs.
Bi-pedal design is not the best, it just happend because some four-legged walkers decided they wanted to use two of their limbs to carry shiny stones and pointy sticks.
Only option that nature had was to learn walking on two limbs, so that other two limbs would be free for other stuff.
Well, one other option to have gripper is to make the nose really long:
But elephants are just a hacky workaround.
Image
Two legged walking is THAT stupid that some people would rather come up with such silly noses, just to avoid having to walk on two legs!

Design of machines is less limited, if you need an extra limb then you just attach it.
Similiar if you want a higher point of vision then you just put the sensors on some teleskop mast.
Why raise the whole body or duck with whole body, it is no efficient.
(in fire fights also a sure way to get killed)
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Climbing with two legs is quite impossible. As soon as the terrain gets a bit difficult everybody starts cheating by using their arms or nose.
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LordMuffe
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by LordMuffe » 07 Dec 2014, 12:58

knorke wrote:
LordMuffe wrote:if there would be a mech which can carry stronger weaponry and armor while still being as maneuverable as humans in that kind of rough terrain, it would be quite a advantage.
Yes, but does such machine nessecarily have to be a bipedal mech?
sure not necessarily. its just that its a design that is known to work. Standing, kneeling, laying down are practical and probably harder to achieve with non bipedal designs. The good thing about the humanoid design is the human like flexibility. Literally climbing is done quite well by humans, compared to other big animals. I doubt that the technology will be there anytime soon, but if possible, humanoid would be superior in its flexibility in hard terrain.
knorke wrote: A (future) tank or other robot does not have to lean out of a corner to look around it.
Or maybe the tank/robot just launches some small camera drone to look around the corner but the vehicle itself stays in cover.
So instead of trying to copy the ways of humans, find a different way to do it better.
true. But there is even lower tech stuff, like mirror-on-a-stick (don´t know what the actual name is). And the real advantage would be that you can lean in, fire, lean out. Tanks have trouble doing that.

I think, in a time, where anti-armor weapons for the infantry is a common, relatively cheap thing, there would be an advantage for humanoid robot/power-armor things, given that they would have good flexibility and movement speed.
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hoijui
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by hoijui » 07 Dec 2014, 13:39

we use to think of machine design in a kind of virtual environment where some limitations do not exist, but for battle tech mechs they would. that is kind of the only small flaw i see in your analysis, knorke.
i mean, you can not just add more legs to the thing cause they are sometimes useful. more legs means, more weight, more material required to build the thing, more stuff that can break, and they could come in the way .. like.. say you want to climb a narrow staircase. without considering this stuff. you end up with the car that humor simpson designed.
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AF
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by AF » 07 Dec 2014, 23:22

Without bi-pedal robots all those dark scifi movies would have no way of objectifying women and claiming they're just showing plastic breasts on robots when called out.

There's also the movie surrogates, be they military surrogates or civilian surrogates, humanoid robots have uses, though for raw military purposes they're not ideal ( but that's not what was asked, are they useful? )
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PicassoCT
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Re: Would bipedal mechs actually be useful?

Post by PicassoCT » 08 Dec 2014, 00:01

Yes, why cant man be functional objectiv-ying like woman?
Dont go for the outer triggers, go for the inner values.
For example, you can get yourself a dumb girl,one that hates gays , hook her on drugs and then get yourself a "good" gay friend and pressure him into "usefull services" (macho-church/man-ism). You can even use that servant to force your dumb girl friend to uphold the social contract should the drugs run out.

Bonuspoints if you get the slave-traders-dissease ( a not- moving-your-own-ass-disability) and start blaming your dumb girl friend for it as ideology.

Thats a bi-pedalling, getting derail-gunned. ;)
One of those spring-brawls. About time.

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