Pilots wanted for giant mech robot Kuratas

Inspired by animated mecha, Kuratas brings the sensation of piloting a 13-foot combat robot down to Earth.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read
Built from parts on Yahoo Auctions, Kuratas rolls around and shoots BB pellets. Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET

Mecha-heads rejoice: A Gundam-style giant robot has come to life in Japan, promising joyrides aplenty in this 13-foot humanoid machine on wheels.

Suidobashi Heavy Industry showed off its Kuratas mecha bot over the weekend in Makuhari just outside Tokyo.

Kuratas is a four-wheeled, 30-joint exoskeleton that can be piloted from its cockpit or remotely with a 3G touch-screen phone. It was demoed at the Wonder Festival, where legions of robot fans gathered.

Kuratas can move its massive torso, arms, and hands, and has a few "weapons" like a "LOHAS launcher," but it actually shoots BB pellets and fireworks. It can also grab things (like humans) with its claw-like fingers.

After all, Kuratas is billed as an "art project" but it "makes your dream of becoming a robot pilot come true," as a promo video tells us.

The man behind it is metalworking wizard Kogoro Kurata, who is known for creating a full-scale cast-iron model of a Scopedog mecha from the 1980s series "Votoms."

Kurata has also done a variety of art and commercial design work in recent years in and around Tokyo. He assembled the robot in a remote garage in the mountains.

Kuratas is a case of life imitating art. It evokes the realism of Votoms and the Gundam animation franchise that debuted in 1979.

Inside the cockpit, AR-style info is overlaid over the video feed. Game-style controls rotate the torso and move the arms. The exterior has "shot-proof armor" and is painted with military-style insignias.

Suidobashi Heavy Industry's logo, meanwhile, recalls those of Japanese weapons and shipbuilding conglomerates like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Kuratas: In the giant robot garage (pictures)

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Video shows the bot rolling through Shibuya and other areas of Tokyo, but that seems unlikely. The capital's near-ubiquitous cops would doubtless halt the machine before it got far.

But if the project goes well and generates enough interest, Kurata and Suidobashi are hoping to build bespoke Kuratas units. A video shows a grainy figure of 1,523,500, but the currency is unclear. The sum in Japanese yen would equal nearly $20,000.

Dreams cost plenty of cash. Check out the gallery of pics above if you need inspiration.

(Via Wired Japan)