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Japanese engineer builds giant robot to realise 'Gundam' dream

Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo boards the bipedal robot Mononofu during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan April 12, 2018. — Reuters pic
Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo boards the bipedal robot Mononofu during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan April 12, 2018. — Reuters pic

SHINTO, April 16 — Japanese engineer Masaaki Nagumo had always dreamed of suiting up as a robot from Mobile Suit Gundam, his favourite animation 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 8.5-metre tall, two-legged robot weighing in at more than seven 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,” Nagumo, 44, told Reuters, 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 yen (RM3,610) an hour, for kids' birthday parties and other entertainment, he said.

Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo controls the bipedal robot Land Walker during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan April 12, 2018. — Reuters pic
Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo controls the bipedal robot Land Walker during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan April 12, 2018. — Reuters pic

The company has created robots as varied as the 3.4-metre tall Landwalker, the smaller Kid's Walker Cyclops and the MechBoxer boxing machine — but the 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. It is no speedster, however, moving at less than one km per hour.

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

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

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

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