Machine Design

A game of giants

Considering he’s 26-ft tall and weighs a little over a ton, the animatronic model of Miami Dolphins’ Jason Taylor is pretty light on its feet.

London-based SFX specialist Artem Ltd. created ‘Big JT’ to promote the contest between the Dolphins and the New York Giants, the first regular-season NFL game ever played outside the U.S.

To build it, designers first sculpted a 3-ft clay model based on photogaphs of Taylor. The model as well as official NFL helmet, shoes, and gloves were then scanned. Then, mechanical parts and supporting structure were designed using Autocad and Solidworks.

Big JT, the world’s largest animatronic human, uses electronics and hydraulics to ‘walk’ at 4-5 mph. Artem chose MicroFlex AC drives and BSM servo motors from Baldor Electric, Fort Smith, Ark., to power Big JT’s feet.

There are two linear actuators in each foot, and two dc servos drive linear slides to make it walk.

Four actuators power the hips and waist, and the head moves on a custom, 6-axis, electromechanical motion base.

Hard wired, radio-controlled servos in the head control the eyes, eyelids, and mouth. A custom controller with manual overrides synchronizes the robot’s movements, and the walk cycle is controlled by an encoder. Manually operated, self-contained hydraulics power the arms.

A single step covers about 8 ft. The shoes are 6-ft long, and the eyeballs are the size of a grapefruit. A special camera fitted to the helmet transfers images of what Jason ‘sees’ to a 40-ft LED screen which travels behind him. The robot is supported by a specially adapted JCB Telehandler.

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