Note that times are subject to change, so check the Tetsujin area for last minute updates!

Wonder how those lift scores are calculated? They come from a four-term formula that was disclosed early on to the competitors.This allowed them to maximize any of the terms they wished to for their unique designs.

Score =

Lift Height (cm) • Lifted Weight (kg) Lift time (sec) • Total System Weight (kg)

So, a 300 kg suit (with operator) lifting 300 kg the full meter in 2.2 seconds earns a score of (100 • 300)/(2.2 • 300) = 45.45

Competitors had to decide if they would shoot for lifting a large amount of weight or lifting it quickly. As you can see, one team lifting 100 kg in one second does just as well as a team that lifts 200 kg in two seconds — but the first team doesn't need as heavy of an exosuit to lift 100 kg! Since this is a "strength augmentation" contest — not one of strength replacement — smart competitors have been doing their push-ups every day to give a hand to their mechanical systems.

the road to TETSUjiN

Tetsujin Exosuit

1. Jascha Little of Mechanicus examines a hydraulic leg joint. 2. Team Technotrousers' wooden mock-up. 3 .Alex Sulkowski of Xela told everyone he could walk in his suit.This caused a great deal of worry! 4.The softer side of Chuck Pitzer from Team Raptor. 5. Billy Holcomb's mascot, Chip, helps apply "bonding pressure" while the carbon fiber sets up. 6. Dan Rupert of Technotrousers performs an early lift in these frames from his video. 7.The lead screw in the foot of the Technotrousers.

The Philosophy of Tetsujin

You see, this all started with a comic book. Back in 1987, I was studying physics at UC Irvine and — to help me relax — I enjoyed the art of Bob Layton in the Marvel title, Iron Man. If you're not a comic book fan, don't worry, I won't bore you, other than to say that this comic wasn't about magic, telekinetics, X-factors, or any of that junk. It was about a smart engineer, Tony Stark, who built a machine to augment his strength and perception. Of course, he was inside that machine, so it ultimately became an extension of his will to help people.

I always imagined that — through the mastery of electronics, mechanics, materials science, software, and biome-chanics — other engineers could achieve the same feat, extending their physical abilities the way Stark did. There was no mystery, just a path of focused study and effort, backed by research funds.

The cornerstones of this technology were actually laid by Ralph S. Mosher of General Electric in the 1950s. Mosher worked in the R&D lab on force feedback systems and hydromechanical servo valves, eventually culminating in the HardiMan Suit. (You've probably never seen it, so I've included a photo. I have no idea what the hard hat is for!)

Around that time, Robert A. Heinlein published his book, Starship Troopers, which featured an off-world, mobile infantry encased in hulking exosuits that let them hop about and carry huge weapons into battle. The sci-fi

A fully realized exosuit, Iron Man. Image courtesy of Bob Layton.

The Cat Power Work Loader from the movie Aliens.

A fully realized exosuit, Iron Man. Image courtesy of Bob Layton.

The Cat Power Work Loader from the movie Aliens.

connection was further developed in the 1986 movie, Aliens, where Lt. Ripley employs a "walking forklift" in the final battle with the alien queen. Clearly, exosuits have been on people's minds for a while.

So, how does this all coalesce into the Tetsujin event at RoboNexus? In the same way that Pythagoras assigned tones to the planets and referred to the "music of the spheres," during their alignment, we're in the middle of a Mozart recital — as seen from a technological perspective. When I'm asked why we're holding this event, my answer is, "Why not? What in the world are we waiting for?"

When Larry and Robin Lemieux and I sat down to plan the vision for SERVO Magazine, we all wanted it to become the force for something valuable to society. We weren't content to just report on the emerging personal robotics industry; we wanted to help drive it. So, when I thought up the premise for Tetsujin in late 2003, I knew it was a winning idea. Here, we could get top electromechanical engineers to compete in a way that people could relate to, while motivating them to develop a technology that people would one day be thankful for.

Robots are the hot topic these days. They pop up on CNN as they rove over planetary surfaces, collect bacteria from the deepest trenches of the ocean, and provide recon info for police and military operations. Students memorize their names and functions right alongside the bones and muscles of the body. The age of robotics is now.

Are the initial competitors of Tetsujin fielding exosuits on par with the sci-fi movies? No, but then again, these are the Monster Garage builders that weld and design at night, not the researchers with seven figure development budgets and 36 month project timelines. I will point out that not a single university robotics department entered the competition this year and I know why: the tendency to overcomplicate. The challenge is simple and I hope that qualified engineers realize that a roll of newspaper works just as well as a CO2 laser with Doppler tracking for swatting a fly.

Finally, the role of exosuits in society will increase and, in time, they'll become like microwave ovens — we'll wonder how we ever did without them. I predict that every fire station will have a limited form of exosuit on hand so that first responders can quickly reach trapped victims. The elderly will have increased mobility as lighter-duty versions return strength to their legs and hips. Heck, FedEx bought a plug in the film I, Robot so, maybe their drivers will be wearing exosuits in a few years!

Every project begins with a single idea and that idea is instantiated by putting a pen to paper. The idea that robotics will allow humans be more human is the arch that holds up the Tetsujin competition and it begins right here, as these weights are lifted before your eyes.

— Editor Dan Danknick

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