Have you ever thought to yourself, ”I want to operate a giant robot”? Any fan of robot animation or robot games has longed to this. Well, the day when this dream comes true may finally be here.
At the Wonder Festival, a garage-kit event held in Japan on July 29th, attendants were astonished by one of the entries. The exhibit was a human-shaped, four-legged, engine powered, terrestrial battlebot developed and manufactured by Suidobashi Juukou called Kuratas.
The sight alone of a 4 meter tall robot weighing 4 tons with the capability for precision movement (enabled by about 30 joints) would be enough to blow anyone away, but the most impressive feature lies in the ability to climb inside and actually operate it yourself. When the pilot climbs up into the cockpit (situated in the chest area of the machine), it looks like a scene straight out of an anime or video game. The operation of Kuratas has been simplified by V-Shido (pronounced bushido), an operating system for human-shaped robots designed to allow for intuitive control over the machine through the pilot’s own movements.
The Kuratas project was developed with the intention of mass-production and they have already launched a site to accept orders. The body alone costs $1,353,000; add to that an iron claw for $80,000; or, say, a hand-gun for $70,000. By choosing different options, the 3D modelling displays your Kuratas equipped with your choices along with your grand total. According to the developer’s blog, there are already orders for more than 3,000 machines from both within Japan and abroad. Although it sounds like roughly the same number of cancellations have come in (from people who probably thought it was just a joke), there are apparently a few serious inquiries. For example, there’s an American air gun maker who wants to use it for security, and a prince from an oil producing country who wants to have a look at Kuratas himself.
In a robot loving country like Japan, Kuratas, of course, was big news. The news was reported on a myriad of sites and was met with large response. Here are some comments taken from Twitter and other web forums.
- “This is going to be popular. Within three years every home will have one.”
- “3000?! Wow. They can really make that many?”
- “A little expensive, don’t ya think? Oh well, what can you do…”
- “I didn’t think they were really going to sell these things.”
- “I totally want one of these. The only problem is getting permission to drive on the road.”
- “I think these will lead to robots like in Gundam or Macross.”
- “America or Russia will probably be the first to use these in the military. They [Suidoubashi Juukou] better hurry up and patent this like Apple. Whatever, though.”
- “It’s just a matter of time before these things are collecting dust.”
- “It’s kind of scary to think of people buying these for the military.”
- “Ok…now to get busy putting criminal masterminds’ brains in these things.”
- “This is totally a secret, but the Self Defense Force [of Japan] definitely have battle robots already. Definitely don’t tell anyone. Because it’s a secret.”
- “So we’ve finally come to the age of robots…”
- “I’ll start an iron claw company. Give me funding.”
- “Ok, it’s not too late. I’m going to make a robot, too. A better one…”
- “…And this was to become Japan’s main industry…”
- “This is about on the same level as an amusement park attraction. But I guess dreams are priceless…”
There was also an interview with the creator and software designer (English subtitles) – make sure to check them out. Surprisingly, Kuratas was the work of mainly two people.
This story re-confirms the fact that Japanese people really love robots and, at the same time, shows the dreams and possibilities manga and anime can create. I would also like to operate a giant robot before I die.