Japanese start-up builds a Gundam-like robot
- A Japanese startup company has built a Gundam-like humanoid robot.
- The robot has a cockpit for humans to operate.
- The 3.5-ton robot costs US$3 million.
Gundam robots and anime fans now have the opportunity to own and operate such machines. A Japanese startup company has developed a 4.5-meter-tall, four-wheeled robot that resembles the Gundam robot.
According to a report by Reuters, the Gundam robot was developed by Tokyo-based startup company Tsubame Industries. Called ARCHAX, the robot has cockpit monitors that can receive images from cameras hooked onto its exterior. Those monitors give the pilot a full view from inside the torso as they maneuver the robot’s arms and hands.
The 3.5-ton robot, costing US$3 million, is expected to be unveiled at the Japan Mobility Show and has two modes: an upright robot mode and a vehicle mode. The vehicle mode can travel up to 10km/h.
“Japan is very good at animation, games, robots, and automobiles, so I thought it would be great if I could create a product that compressed all these elements into one,” Ryo Yoshida, the 25-year-old chief executive of Tsubame Industries, explained to Reuters.
While he plans to build and sell the machine to fans, Yoshida also hopes the robot could one day be used for disaster relief or in the space industry.
Will the real Gundam robot please stand up?
Yoshida is just one of the many Gundam robot and anime fans worldwide who are making the most of the technology they have today to build such machines. Gundam fandom is big in Japan, and other companies have also built bigger versions of the Gundam robot.
The most famous Gundam robot is at the Gundam factory in Yokohama. This machine is an engineering feat at 60 feet tall and weighing over 25 tonnes. Not only can the robot walk and kneel, but it also holds the Guinness World Record for being the most enormous robot of its kind.
In a report by Inverse, the Moving Gundam came to life due to nine companies working together as technical partners. Astratec, responsible for the motion program and control systems, stated that the Gundam was neither a piece of heavy equipment nor an industrial robot but rather an entertainment device that no-one had ever seen before.
Japan’s robotics industry
Japan’s robotics industry remains one of the most advanced in the world. Statistics from the International Trade Administration show that as of 2022, 45% of all industrial robots in the world were initially produced or designed by companies in Japan. Orders for industrial robots from Japanese manufacturers hit a record US$7.35 billion in 2022, up 1.6% from the previous year. Production increased by 5.6%, also a record.
The shift toward adopting automation for packaging and transport has grown in logistics, food, and pharmaceuticals. Japan had 631 robots working in the manufacturing sector for every 10,000 humans in 2021. By comparison, the US had 274 robots for every 10,000 humans.
The US has also tried to create similar robots like Gundam. However, its focus was also more on entertainment when developing robots. In 2017, American robotics company Megabots took part in a giant fighting robot showdown with Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industries. The US toppled Japan at the showdown after its multi-million dollar Eagle Prime robot demolished Suidobashi’s Kurata robot.
Since then, the developments of robots has been continuous, but none have so far match the version created by Yoshida, which allows a human to control the robot. Elon Musk’s Optimus humanoid robot has yet to make headlines, but it could be a worthy contender for the human-controlled Gundam robot in the future.
While it may be some time before we see Transformers take on Gundam, the robotics development in both countries shows that anything is possible with robots today. And with generative AI, there will be opportunities for the robots to be fully automated, or even controlled by humans.
For now, Japan continues to have the edge in the industry and will likely continue to develop more robots capable of contributing to society.
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