Masaaki Nagumo may have gotten a bit carried away. The 44-year-old Japanese engineer has fulfiled his dream of creating a mech suit like the ones in science fiction anime Mobile Suit Gundam. The only problem is, at 28 feet tall, he has to take the whole machine apart because it’s too big to walk through the factory exit.
Despite its gargantuan stature, Reuters reported on Friday that Nagumo is positive about the future of the machine dubbed “LW-Mononofu.” The 7.7-ton robot was developed at farming machinery manufacturer Sakakibara Kikai, and the company has put similar machines to good use before. It’s previously developed smaller machines like the MechBoxer boxing machine and 11-foot-tall Landwalker, offering them for kids’ birthday parties and events at a rate of 100,000 yen (around $930) per hour. Nagumo claims Gundam’s popularity shows why the mech “can be turned into a business opportunity.”
LW-Mononofu won’t be fighting wars anytime soon. While the machine offers a cockpit with levers and computer screens for control, it toddles along at just 0.6 miles per hour. On the right arm, an air gun shoots sponge balls at 87 miles per hour. Nagumo believes that “as an anime-inspired robot that one can ride, I think this is the biggest in the world.”
It’s not the first giant mech robot. Method-2, which claimed to be the world’s first, took its steps back in December 2016 and weighed a staggering 1.5 tons — with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pictured taking the helm four months later. A televised face-off between mechs in October 2017 saw Suidobashi face off against MegaBots, the latter of which offers its Eagle Prime Mech for private bookings.
Japan is host to a wide number of robotics festivals and smaller projects. Japan Robot Week, which alternates annually with the International Robot Exhibition, is set to show off some of the greats from October 17 to 19.
One small step for man, one giant but very cautious step for mech-kind.