Sat, Apr 14, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Japanese engineer builds massive ‘Gundam’ robot

FIREPOWER:The 8.5m-tall robot can execute complex movements such as moving its fingers and torso, and it features an air gun that can shoot balls at about 140kph

Reuters, SHINTO, Japan

Engineer Masaaki Nagumo opens a hatch from the cockpit of LW-Mononofu — an anime-inspired bipedal robot — during a demonstration at the Sakakibara Kikai factory in Shinto, Japan, on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

Japanese engineer Masaaki Nagumo had always dreamed of suiting up as a robot from Mobile Suit Gundam, his favorite animated series growing up. Now he has made it a reality by creating a giant humanoid inspired by the science fiction franchise.

Developed at Sakakibara Kikai, a maker of farming machinery, LW-Mononofu is an 8.5m-tall, two-legged robot weighing in at more than 7 tonnes. It contains a cockpit with monitors and levers for the pilot to control the robot’s arms and legs.

“I think this can be turned into a business opportunity,” 44-year-old Nagumo told reporters, noting the popularity of the iconic series that has spawned movies, manga, video games and more.

Sakakibara Kikai has developed other robots and amusement machines alongside its main agriculture equipment business and rents them out for about ¥100,000 (US$929.10) per hour, for kids’ birthday parties and other entertainment, he said.

The company has created various robots, such as the 3.4m tall Landwalker, the smaller Kid’s Walker Cyclops and the MechBoxer boxing machine — but mighty Mononofu towers over them all and executes more complex movements.

It can move its fingers and turn its upper body, and walk forward and backward, but it is no speedster, moving at less than 1kph.

However, what it lacks in pace it makes up for with power: a bazooka-like air gun on its right arm shoots sponge balls at about 140kph.

“As an anime-inspired robot that one can ride, I think this is the biggest in the world,” Nagumo said.

However, Mononofu might be a bit too large: it is unable to leave the factory without being dismantled, because it was built taller than the entrance.

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