We’re not anime fans, but Japanese engineer Masaaki Nagumo apparently is. The engineer is enough of one, in fact, that he’s spent a fair amount of time and his employer’s money (he works for Sakakibara Kikai, a farm equipment maker) to build himself a Mobile Suit Gundam-style robot called Mononofu.
“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 $930 an hour, for kids’ birthday parties and other entertainment, he said.
The behemoth is controlled by a driver who sits in a cockpit, pulling levers and turning knobs.
It can move its fingers and turn its upper body and walk forward and backward. It is no speedster, however, moving at less than 1 kilometer per hour, which is about half a mile per hour.
And because a 28-foot tall human-controlled suit isn’t much fun if all it does is walk around, Masaaki armed the thing.
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 87 miles per hour.
Just for comparison’s sake, your average Nerf gun launches its foam projectiles at about 35 mph. But there’s no reason Mononofu can’t be armed with something more powerful.
It likely won’t be long before these things can be remotely controlled, drone-style, by someone sitting at a computer somewhere. That way, when Mothra descends on Tokyo, Mononofu will be able to go up against the giant flying insect without risking the driver.
And could autonomous control be far behind?