Robotics look into Sci-fi Robots (Pacific Rim)

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So, today we would be talking about robotics in movies (Sci-fi) and specifically where these robots meets reality.

Yeah…It’s gonna be so cool, just stay tuned till the end.

A little context about the movie, Pacific Rim (2013)

So, it was some years into the future, and there were these monsters that came from another world beneath the earth. They were indescribably gigantic and they cause nuclear-sized destruction in minutes. They were called “Kaiju”. Then the whole world came together to build a enormous robots with about the same size to fight these monsters. The robots were called “Jaeger”.

poster of pacific rim
pacific rim poster from

And thus, the war of humanity against aliens all gigantic creatures began.

Who won? Humans!

Please note that this is not a paid / promotional article. I do not get any credit for the mentions of things in the movie. This is just a way to tell an unfamiliar story [robotics] with a familiar one [Pacifim rim].

Also, all the discussion in this article is based solely on what was acted in the filmed and displayed and the extensive robotic knowledge on the web

The aim of the article is not meant to throw you into a physics whirlwind, rather into a robotics thinking phase

With everything out of the way let’s begin…

The first lesson, the Jaeger, the gigantic robots, are in fact called Robotic Suits [or robotic exoskeleton or wearable machine] and they are to augment humans and not be autonomous.

The Jaeger is not an autonomous robot-like transformer (from the movie) but a robotics suit that needs human at the control seat

So, what’s a robotics suit?

Basically,  a robotic designed element that is worn or ridden, in this case, by a living thing which for the Jaeger is human. It is built so that the person wearing it is more than human, and the life in it [the person] makes it fundamentally different from autonomous robots like transformers.

Take note: a robotic suit is built like an actual robot with all the actuators and sensors just that the control is that of human – talk of remote pilots for drones

A little twist…

The people that ride the Jaeger are actually wearing a robotic suit that is their size [that thing that looks like an amour], before they enter another robotic suit which was deemed, Jaeger in that film.

the image of two jaeger pilots going into the jaegar
shot from the movie

So, the Jaeger is a human in a fitted robotics suit, riding another gigantic robotics suit… cool isn’t it? 

Now since we have squashed what the Jaeger is, let’s us move forward…

The design, shall we?

From the Warner bros-blueprint (Warner bros, the company behind the film), the Jaeger stands at about 288ft.  How tall would that be?

Okay, lemme give you an insight to think about it: the overall height from base to torch for the stature of liberty is 306 feet and 6 inches…so standing the Jaeger would conveniently light the torch.

comparing the Jaeger and the Stature of liberty (from base to torch)
comparing the Jaeger and Stature of liberty

And the weight is about 7080 tons which is equivalent to stacking about 110 Falcon heavy (spaceX rocket) together and weight them, making it indescribably heavy.

comparing the Jaeger and Falcon Heavy by weight

As of today can we build something as might has this?

Probably but it would be a stature. To breath life into it would take us about a decade or less or more…but no one can actually predict how technology would grow.

The Jaeger’s motion

The Jaeger was built to be like human and move like a human, right? Thus it is safe to say that it has all the movable parts that the human has and the human body has about 230 movable joints.

Contextually, it would mean that the Jaeger needs about 230 movable joints to simulate the human locomotion.

But no no… it may not be the case cos the most advanced humanoid robot as of this writing (in my opinion at least), Atlas (by Boston Dynamics), which has successfully simulated a considerable amount of human locomotion uses 28 joints. Robotics can be quite tricky!

230 joints might not be needed to simulate the human locomotion, cos Atlas, an humanoid robot, uses 28 joints and has successfully gone out for a jog and does parkour.

What about the “force” needed?

We already stated that the weight of the Jaeger is at 7080 tons – this includes the fuel, person riding it etc, (gross weight). It begs the question how does it move?

Let’s simplify this shall we?

Much of the movement of the Jaeger, as that of any human is moving of the limbs – the complete arm (shoulder to fingers), the thighs and the legs.

Thus, we need to calculate the torque needed to move this limbs…

Some rough estimates and approximates of the torque needed to move the arm and legs using body to height and weight ration revealed it to be about 82 x 10^6 lb-ft for them about and about 90 x 10^6 lb-ft for the legs.

Now, these numbers might not be alive enough, but take this:

A Bugatti Veyron motor produces 922 lb-ft of torque, so to drive the hand, it needs about 840 of Bugatti Veyron motor….get it now?

So, it’s clear it is not using a motor from this world, but definitely from the sci-fi world, and if ever this kind of motor would be, it would be kick ass.

And now that we know where the force is coming from – a motor – we are pushed to ask what powers this ginormous motors…

In the context of this movie, the only insight given to us was that one [gipsy] has a nuclear reactor built into it.  Wait, nuclear what?

I mean, who builds a nuclear reactor into a robot?

Only happens in sci-fi right? What say you chemical engineers?

But I think they won cos no battery/dry cell/wet cell or any kind of living cell can every suffice the Jaeger not only because it has no enough power, but the robot [Jaeger] has to be self-generating.

Lastly, what is it made of?

Robotically thinking, without any pointers, strength of materials teaches us that it must be made of titanium or an alloy of iron. 

But there were pointers where they mention that one was made of full titanium core no alloy. Why titanium? Strength, resistance and ability to withstand high temperature.


Thank you for sticking around till the end.  Hope you’ve learnt two things or more…

In this article we have being about to talk about the design, the motion, what power the Jaeger and what it is made of.

Though not a complete physics class, I believe it has pointed you towards some robotics thinking – cos that’s the goal.

Now thinking, robotically, if there’s no apocalypse about to happen, would we [the whole world] ever need to build any Jaeger?

Would you ride in one?

Do you think the technology in the Jaeger can ever exist?

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Thank you


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