Alberta ex-soldier Kickstarts giant robot

Phil Allen is looking to build a working model of his nine-foot prototype, Patronus in Airdrie,...

Phil Allen is looking to build a working model of his nine-foot prototype, Patronus in Airdrie, Alta. (Dawn Smith/QMI Agency)

Dawn Smith, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:46 PM ET

AIRDRIE, Alta.— A Canadian Forces veteran has taken to Kickstarter to fund his dream of building a giant, "kickass" robot.

Phil Allen of Crossfield, Alta., loves robots. Several years ago, the grandfather built his “giant killer robot” Patronus on his property just outside of the town of Crossfield’s limits.

Weighing about 408 kg, the Juggernaut Series Robot, also known as GKR-001, stands nine-feet tall and is a commanding presence to passersby.

The robot, which Allen affectionately refers to as “part of the family,” has garnered much attention, with articles in newspapers across the country.

But Allen, a Canadian Forces Veteran with welding and construction experience, isn’t satisfied with his inaugural project.

He is now keen to “sink his teeth” into the creation of a fully functional robot based on his completed prototype.

Allen says GKR-002, which will have an electric hydraulic robot chassis, would be put to use for heavy-duty jobs, perhaps in mining, police work, the military or even asteroid mining.

“I went for the hero guy,” he said. “I see an avatar-like setup where you are hooked up and you drive him more or less. He could be up and running in very short order.”

Allen says his newest project, which he figures will weigh in at 1,633 kg, will be capable of “bending down and picking up a car.”

Allen’s love for robotics began early.

“I grew up with science fiction in the Lost in Space (era),” he said, adding he was the proud owner of the 1960s Zeroid toy robot that zoomed around, capturing his young imagination.

But life got in the way of his passion.

After his time in the Canadian Forces, Allen started working as a welder and soon realized he needed to branch off on his own.

He realized there are many people who are skilled in welding and construction and was determined to find his niche.

“One day it was like, ‘Ding! You need to build a giant killer robot,’” Allen said.

That was about six years ago.

Patronus took about a year to build — out of scrap material Allen had on hand — and was completed in 2011 for very little economic output.

If built, his new project won’t be so cost-effective. In fact, Allen has set his budget at $150,000. It’s an amount he doesn’t have on hand.

So Allen has set out to raise the money on crowd-funding site Kickstarter.

“If you are interested in actually seeing robots ... then its right here waiting for as little as $1,” Allen said.

He explained the new robot will be a full-disclosure project, and members will be adopted into the “robot republic.”

Allen said he hasn’t decided what he will do if the funding doesn’t come through, but added he already knows what the unveiling of his functioning giant killer robot will look like.

“His debut is just like the Zeroid: punching his way, kicking his way through a brick wall. He is going to be kickass,” he said.

 


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