Japan’s Tsubame Industries unveils $3 million robot inspired by Gundam anime

Tokyo-based start-up Tsubame Industries has developed a 4.5-meter-tall (14.8-feet), four-wheeled robot that looks like “Mobile Suit Gundam” from the wildly popular Japanese animation series, and it can be yours for $3 million. The robot, called ARCHAX after the avian dinosaur archaeopteryx, is designed to appeal to the fans of the Gundam franchise, which has spawned numerous TV shows, movies, video games, and toys since its debut in 1979.

The robot has cockpit monitors that receive images from cameras hooked up to the exterior so that the pilot can manoeuvre the arms and hands with joysticks from inside its torso. The 3.5-ton robot also has two modes: the upright ‘robot mode’ and a ‘vehicle mode’ in which it can travel up to 10 km (6 miles) per hour.

Japan’s Tsubame Industries unveils $3 million robot inspired by Gundam anime
Japan’s Tsubame Industries unveils $3 million robot inspired by Gundam anime

A product that says ‘This is Japan’

Ryo Yoshida, the 25-year-old chief executive of Tsubame Industries, said he wanted to create a product that showcases Japan’s strengths in animation, games, robots, and automobiles. “Japan is very good at these things so I thought it would be great if I could create a product that compressed all these elements into one,” he said. “I wanted to create something that says, ‘This is Japan’.”

Yoshida plans to build and sell five of the machines for the well-heeled robot fan, but hopes the robot could one day be used for disaster relief or in the space industry. He said he was inspired by his grandfather, who ran an ironworks, and by his own experience of making myoelectric prosthetic hands. He said he is eager to keep Japan’s competitive edge in manufacturing alive. “I hope to learn from previous generations and carry on the tradition,” he said.

A glimpse of the future at Japan Mobility Show

The robot will be unveiled at the Japan Mobility Show later this month, where it will compete for attention with other futuristic vehicles and technologies. The show, which will run from Oct. 27 to Nov. 5 in Tokyo, will feature exhibits from over 300 companies and organizations, including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Sony, Panasonic, and SoftBank.

The show’s theme is “Mobility for All”, and it aims to showcase how mobility can enrich people’s lives and society. Some of the highlights include a flying car prototype by SkyDrive, a self-driving wheelchair by WHILL, a wearable exoskeleton by Cyberdyne, and a humanoid robot by Honda.

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