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The Man Who Built a 20-Foot Flamethrowing Exoskeleton

Meet mild-mannered amateur inventor Carlos Owens and his infamous “Big Red” robot.
December 9, 2009, 7:30pm

Mention Wasilla, Alaska, and presidential also-ran Sarah Palin leaps to mind like a caribou. But the southern Alaskan town’s more animated, engaging, and intelligent invention is easily a 20-foot-tall robotic mecha robot with flamethrowers for hands.

Look into the heart of this wire-wound, rust-streaked, red-metal exoskeleton and you’ll find its brain: the mild-mannered amateur inventor Carlos Owens, founder of Neogentronyx. When this former Air Force engineer and steelworker isn’t manning his one-ton, $25,000 hydraulic robot—equal parts Gigantor, Aliens, Starship Troopers—Carlos is tinkering with his other sci-fi-anime-inspired dream machines: a Hover Bike and a Sky Bike. They don’t really work right now, but we’re optimistic for a future launch if Carlos is.

Motherboard sent Thomas Morton out to talk to Carlos about his “Star-” inspirations, learn all about his blueprint development process, and to find out why it was he built his infamous “Big Red” in the first place. (Short and long answer: “Because I could.”)