Anime Expo 2005
Anime Expo - Mechanized Propulsion Systems Panel

by Roberto Ramirez,
Move over Asimo, here it comes MPS-1

For the past five years now, there has been a Mechanized Propulsion Systems (MPS) panel at Anime Expo. While it might sound like something you'd expect to find at a NASA or JPL convention, the panel is very much at home at an anime convention.

MPS was formed 6 years ago a single goal in mind: to create the first fully functional ‘mecha’ in the world. The group is made up of young individuals with expertise and degrees in various related fields ranging from computer programming, electronics, physics, internal combustion engines, and metallurgy, just to name a few.

The term "mecha" is most commonly used to refer to large mechanized vehicles powered by human operators and resembling robots. In other words "mecha" are giant, human piloted robots. In the saga of Robotech, human operators ride these machines to fight invading aliens; in the Gundam series, they are used as war machines to fight political enemies; and in Patlabor, they are all over the place, working on construction sites, cleaning the streets, commiting acts of crime and fighting crime as well.

MPS' goal is to create a machine that will be capable of a multitude of tasks, from moving cargo containers in a shipyard and building construction to military applications. Although the concept may seem very sci-fi, it's rooted in real-world needs and science. It's no fantasy or joke, the people at MPS are very serious about their project.

The structure of the panel was conducted very much like a shareholder or investors meeting, very professional and organized (however, not at all boring!). Every member of the panel was dressed in black, wearing the MPS's company shirt. Earle Bishop, the founder of MPS, introduced himself and the panel's agenda. All the members of the MPS team then introduced themselves in turn, specifying their roles in the company, their responsibilities, and current projects.

MPS is a self-contained independent company. Their own members provide all the resources, the money, the time, the muscle and sweat. They do everything, from the construction of their base of operations to the acquisition and operation the machinery, and raw material.

While no photos were provided, they stated that the structure of the mecha's torso has been completed.

How long will it take to complete? Honda spent 10 years developing the Asimo robot, so it could be a while before MPS is ready to unveil a fully functional prototype. With any luck, though, the unveiling will be at an anime convention.

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