Climbing inside of a giant humanoid robot and piloting it is a staple of Japanese cartoons, but has always been something you could only watch characters do on-screen while you imagined yourself into their shoes — until now. A team of hobbyists, skilled engineers, and robot-lovers in Japan have finally created an honest-to-goodness mech you can actually drive.
Called the Kuratas, the human-controlled robot was created by a group calling itself Suidobashi Heavy Industry lead by Kogoro Kurata, an ironworker and artist. Standing more than 12 feet tall and weighing 9,920 pounds, the Kuratas was unveiled over the weekend at Wonder Fest 2012, an annual hobby convention in Tokyo, Japan, where it was — unsurprisingly — the hit of the show.
The Kuratas features a humanoid upper body and four insect-like legs with wheels. It's designed to seat one person in its "chest," which pivots above a waist and has one fully-articulated arm on either side. Pressing a button on the front of the robot opens the driver compartment canopy, allowing you to climb inside its cramped interior. Once inside, the canopy closes and you're presented with a large LCD display and an array of lighted indicators.
Controlling the robot is handheld through a custom control stick that's part steering wheel, part puppetry rig. It can be turned to pivot the bot's waist and steer it when moving — the Kuratas has a top speed of six miles per hour — while a pair of joysticks operates the arms. Twisting and bending these sticks allows you to control the arms similar to how puppeteers move the elaborate animatronics used in movies. It's also possible to control the robot's movements using an app installed on an iPhone.
In addition to its literal pair of arms, the Kuratas is armed with a multi-rocket launcher and two Gattling cannons. The former fires plastic rockets filled with compressed water, while the latter can shoot a terrifying 6,000 plastic BBs per minute when you smile. As inexplicable as it may seem, the robot is fitted with an Xbox Kinect sensor in order to pick up your gestures and facial expressions, including the one needed to unleash what its creators have dubbed the "smile shot."
The Kuratas might have robot fans grinning, but you'll probably be grimacing when you learn that owning your own, while possible, starts at a whopping $1.35 million. Suidobashi Heavy Industry has set up a web page where you can customize your own Kuratas prior to purchase, including paint schemes, upholstery options, and other options. No word on how much they charge for shipping.
More on Tecca:
- 5 cool robots that mimic animals to save lives
- Researchers get $10 million to build robots that help special needs kids
- DARPA's new robot will make you run for your life
- Technology & Electronics