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What would it take to make real mechs?

Started by seadude, November 02, 2016, 11:38:08 AM

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seadude

Mechs or mecha. The words are mostly used to describe tall, heavy 2 legged (and 2 armed) armored behemoths fitted with an array of armament and combat systems.

But are such "mechs" really capable of being developed? Or are they only relegated to movies, tv shows, and our own imaginations? What would it take to create one?
Feel free to discuss any of the following:
a) Armor
b) Armament
c) Powerplant and locomotion
d) Computer system, Electronics, and Sensors
........etc., etc., etc.
Modeling isn't just about how good the gluing or painting, etc. looks. It's also about how creative and imaginative you can be with a subject.

kerick

I believe DARPA has been working on a suit to allow soldiers to handle heavy loads for almost indefinitely. If this were scaled up it might be the basis for a piloted mech. The machine would respond to the movements of the pilot. Trick is maintaining balance.
I have no idea what would be required in the form of sensors and software to accomplish that.
Weapons with recoil would seem to really complicate that.
" Somewhere, between half true, and completely crazy, is a rainbow of nice colours "
Tophe the Wise

rickshaw

Until they admit that they will have a problem with ground pressure from any Mecha/Mech/Gundum/etc. they will not be moving them very far nor very fast.   The more armour you put on such a vehicle, the higher the ground pressure and that will limit the places they can move.   Hence the joke Star Wars model of a tracked vehicle with the comment on the side, "Tracks Rulez".

Then there is the question of vulnerability of the motive mechanisms.   Reliant on hydraulic systems, there are pipes and motors all over the place which once hit, would render the vehicle immobile.   In few of the Mecha/Mech/Gundum/etc. do you see the joints covered by armour or the hydraulic piping armoured.
How to reduce carbon emissions - Tip #1 - Walk to the Bar for drinks.

zenrat

There is also the question of the pilot/driver/operator.  According to my exhaustive research these have to be shaggy haired teenagers.
Fred

- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..

Snowtrooper

Quote from: zenrat on November 03, 2016, 01:18:29 AM
There is also the question of the pilot/driver/operator.  According to my exhaustive research these have to be shaggy haired teenagers.
Only if you build them in Japan ;)

The MechWarriors in BattleTech are consenting adults, if for no other reason than to allow the art team to include gratuitous pinup art, because in-universe the BattleMechs produce so much heat that they have difficulties dissipating it and as a result the cockpit is a veritable sauna and so the MechWarriors often wear nothing more than shorts and a cooling vest. It remains a mystery, why most MechWarriors aren't of Finnish descent...

---

But seriously, while exoskeletons to allow infantrymen carry more stuff might become a thing, a full-on mech/mecha will be impractical if for no other reason than it will be ridiculously easy to topple due to its centre of gravity being so high up. Sure, you can compensate the balance with AI taught to walk and put in gyroscopes and what not, and locate all possible systems in the legs to move the CoG downwards, but except in some really exceptional terrain - which rarely is worth occuppying - a tank will do the job better, cheaper, and especially with more survivability. A mech is just a big walking "SHOOT ME" signpost, and requires much more armour to achieve equal protection compared to a tank, and unless you have a ready source of unobtanium, it's going to weigh too much and would anyway move the CoG up in order to protect the "head" and torso.

Mossie

A company called Plustech was developing a legged tree harvester a few years back.  I guess that it's gone quiet means it stopped at the prototype stage?
http://www.theoldrobots.com/Walking-Robot2.html

Six legs are generally the way to go with walking robots, so if you're willing to increase the number of legs, you might possibly be able to develop an armoured vehicle for real with todays technology.

However, there's a US and Japanese pair ready to give it a go!
Megabot vs Kuratas
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kerick

I always was puzzled by MaK universe with the hoses/cables running from the arms or legs to the power pack. If they didn't get shot off then they would get caught on rocks or trees and torn off. Just another part of unexplained SF gizmology.

A real world mech would be a huge technological achievement. Just getting it to walk reliably would be incredible. I don't know about combat but construction work might be a good use for such machines.
" Somewhere, between half true, and completely crazy, is a rainbow of nice colours "
Tophe the Wise

kitnut617

There's a Japanese guy making one, it's appeared on Daily Planet a couple of times
If I'm not building models, I'm out riding my dirtbike

rickshaw

Not sure why everybody thinks making a Mech/Mecha/Gundum/etc. "stand upright" and "stay upright" would be all that difficult.  The Asimo Robot (below) is quite capable of running, climbing stairs. etc, without any real problems.



Indeed, I am really unsure, except for the normal Japanese fascination with Gigantism to make a Mech/Mecha/Gundam big.   If anything the Asimo system shows how small it is to make a fully functional robot (about the size of a 12 year old child).   If I was really aiming for full automation, I'd be looking at making my system as small as possible.  It would overcome the problems with ground pressure and the smooth sides and joints of Asimo show how to overcome the hydraulic hoses problem.   It would also allow it to hide behind things.



How to reduce carbon emissions - Tip #1 - Walk to the Bar for drinks.

Snowtrooper

Quote from: rickshaw on November 03, 2016, 11:47:30 PM
Not sure why everybody thinks making a Mech/Mecha/Gundum/etc. "stand upright" and "stay upright" would be all that difficult.  The Asimo Robot (below) is quite capable of running, climbing stairs. etc, without any real problems.
Making things walk is doable, making a thing hopelessly top-heavy due to armour and armament run at an appreciable speed is another matter. There's no way around it, to achieve tank-like protection a walker would have to have much heavier armour due to larger exposed surface area. Even if a human-sized walker would be possible to armour and make it work, when you double the height, the volume grows to the power of three... And I still doubt that a walker in the foreseeable future will be able to run at 70 kph. And if it did, well, the crash would be so much more spectacular than if a tank hits a tree or something.

Suppose the thing steps on a anti-tank mine. Now, a tank can still work as a stationary pillbox, but a mecha would need a 360 degree rotating torso for that. If it can even stay upright after the explosion, that is (which would break even more things), which is why four- or six-legged walkers would be preferable.

So you can overcome these, fine. Then you still can't escape it that line of sight works both ways - being able to see and fire over obstacles also means you will be seen and fired at over those same obstacles.

It's one thing to replace infantry with walkers and robots, it's another thing entirely to replace tanks and AFV's with them. There is a real need for better protection and/or heavier lifting capacity for infantrymen, which is why exoskeletons and human-sized combat robots will be a thing as soon as the technology allows. A full-sized mech is a solution looking for a problem.

Rule of Cool still applies, a mech is much more schmexy than a plain old tank.

zenrat

I suspect the immediate future of fighting robots more resembles Daleks than Gundam.
Fred

- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..

Dizzyfugu

I have doubts about the humanoid mecha as a combat machine. The moving masses are tremendous, controlling these should be a considerable challenge for engineers. Beyond that, the upright posture, with a high profile, offer lots of attack surface that must be protected = more mass to move and control. Not to speak about the many attack points at angles, joints, etc.
Furthermore, I'd say that such a machine is rather easy to render inoperable. And then there's the laws of physics: ground pressure might be the biggest enemy - even for small, armored combat suits like the Ma.K. stuff. You can hardly move into any building with such a device, the floor is hazardous at any step (therefore, I do not think that such full suit systems would be sensible for firefighters, too). And even outside, soggy or soft ground should create massive operational problems.

Personally, I can imagine that a rather light combined wheeled/legged vehicle is more practical - basically a scout tank that relies upon wheels for normal and fast movement, but with an option to deploy legs for heavier terrain and in order to climb over obstacles.

The UN tank in the opening sequence of the Patlabor 2 movie is IMHO a good example:




Otherwise, I think that "mecha at war" will rather be unmanned, armed buggys or "things" that resemble horses or dogs, with four or six legs and not bigger or heavier than a compact car.

zenrat

How about a bounding mecha?  A mechanical kangaroo.
It would have a low centre of gravity and ground pressure when shuffling around slowly would be low due to the long feet and tail.
It'd be a heck of a rough ride at top speed though and the inability to reverse could be a disadvantage.


Fred

- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..

Weaver

Quote from: rickshaw on November 02, 2016, 08:00:35 PM
Until they admit that they will have a problem with ground pressure from any Mecha/Mech/Gundum/etc. they will not be moving them very far nor very fast.   The more armour you put on such a vehicle, the higher the ground pressure and that will limit the places they can move.   Hence the joke Star Wars model of a tracked vehicle with the comment on the side, "Tracks Rulez".

Then there is the question of vulnerability of the motive mechanisms.   Reliant on hydraulic systems, there are pipes and motors all over the place which once hit, would render the vehicle immobile.   In few of the Mecha/Mech/Gundum/etc. do you see the joints covered by armour or the hydraulic piping armoured.

Might have been me that was guilty of that...

http://www.whatifmodellers.com/index.php/topic,29096.15.html



The backstory should tell you everything you need to know about my opinion of mechs....

"Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."
 - Morpheus in Sandman: A Midsummer Night's Dream, by Neil Gaiman

"I dunno, I'm making this up as I go."
 - Indiana Jones '

Old Wombat

One point re: MaK stuff is that it's mostly powered armour for infantry (colonists/mercenaries) or AI robots (Strahl), & every exposed cable I've seen is (supposedly) armoured - although I suspect that the Rule of Cool comes into play there too because it makes the suit/robot look interesting. However, contrary to that, the later colonist/mercenary powered armour suits & aerospace craft have no visors/canopies because they're fitted with VR optical systems to minimise the risk to the operator of having such a weak point.

I don't know where Mecha are going to go but I wouldn't be surprised to see some kind of powered infantry armour at some point but I suspect that larger vehicles will be UCV's with, possibly, some limited autonomy which will look more like armoured cars & tanks than giant fighting robots/suits.
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