Saying it wants to turn science fiction into science reality, Tsubame Industries has created ARCHAX, a giant transformer robot with a human-size cockpit. It currently plans to sell five units for roughly 400 million yen each.
The media was invited to preview ARCHAX on August 19 at a warehouse in Yokohama.
ARCHAX stands an imposing 4.5 meters tall and weighs a hefty 3.5 tons. The cockpit is located in its chest, making the pilot feel like a character in the popular Japanese anime "Mobile Suit Gundam."
Nine cameras attached to ARCHAX's exterior transmit live images to cockpit monitors, allowing the pilot to navigate.
Two joysticks control ARCHAX's arms and hands, which have articulating fingers.
In robot mode, ARCHAX stands up and can travel at 2 kilometers per hour. In vehicle mode, it crouches down and can hit a top speed of 10 kilometers per hour.
Realizing a boyhood dream
Yoshida Ryo, aged 25, is the president of Tsubame Industries. He developed a key interest in machinery at an early age thanks to his grandfather, who ran an ironworks company.
Fascinated by robots as a boy, Yoshida dreamed of building one some day. He went on to study robotic hand technologies at university.
Enlisting an expert
To help turn Yoshida's dream into reality, a veteran engineer joined the team.
Ishii Akinori spent nearly 20 years working for a major construction equipment company. While there he was involved in the development of a machine that moved like a human arm.
He then served as a technical director for a company that operates an entertainment complex in Yokohama whose main attraction is Gundam, a colossal moving robot.
Now Tsubame Industries' chief technical officer, Ishii's participation in the project has prompted other talented engineers to join the team.
A medley of technologies
Various technologies have gone into the making of ARCHAX. The frame is built by an ironworks firm that makes parts for heavy construction machinery. The exterior is made of the same fiber-reinforced plastics used in F1 cars.
Another goal for Yoshida was to showcase Japan's technical prowess internationally. He says, "Japan is a technological powerhouse with a robot industry, an animation industry and an automobile industry. I want to show the world a product that states 'This is Japan.'"
Ishii says ARCHAX is the fruit of knowledge he acquired over his 30-year engineering career and the closest he has come to realizing his dream of creating a robot like Gundam.
A toy for the wealthy, and maybe more...
Although initially ARCHAX will be sold as a toy for the ultra-rich, Tsubame Industries’ ultimate aim is to market it for use in construction and disaster recovery.
ARCHAX is scheduled to be unveiled to the public at the Japan Mobility Show this fall.