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Robot engineer realizes ‘Gundam’ dream

Reuters

Sakakibara Kikai engineer Go Sakakibara poses with the bipedal robot Mononofu during a demonstration at its factory in Shinto, Gunma Prefecture, on Thursday.

Reuters SHINTO, Gunma (Reuters) — 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-meter tall, two-legged robot weighing in at more than 7 tons. 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 an hour, for kids’ birthday parties and other entertainment, he said.

The company has created robots as varied as the 3.4-meter 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 1 kph.

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. Speech

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