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Robot marching 300 miles from Tokyo to Kyoto

Eat your heart out, Energizer Bunny: Panasonic's battery-operated Mr. Evolta robot is on a 300-mile trek from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Highway star: The Evolta robot strides by Mt. Fuji in this artist's rendition.
Highway star: The Evolta robot strides by Mt. Fuji in this artist's rendition.

Panasonic's mascot robot Mr. Evolta is known for amazing stunts like climbing out of the Grand Canyon, but his latest feat will take him through the middle of Japan on a 300-mile march from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Mr. Evolta has appeared in various incarnations under the guiding hand of robot designer Tomotaka Takahashi. His current form is a small humanoid robot pulling an medieval-style daihachiguruma two-wheeled cart.

The 7-inch-tall, 2.2-pound humanoid walks in a rotating plastic cylinder like a hamster wheel, pulling his battery cart. He's remote-controlled and runs on 12 AA Evolta batteries, with a top speed of 2-3mph. He's expected to reach Kyoto on December 10, after 49 days on the road.

Hiroshige created this woodblock print of Hara along the Tokaido in the 1830s.

Mr. Evolta will be trekking along the legendary Tokaido high road, an ancient path linking Tokyo and Kyoto, the old capital. Traditionally traveled on foot, its once picturesque post stations as well as views of Mt. Fuji were celebrated for centuries by artists such as ukiyo-e master Utagawa Hiroshige.

In the Edo period (1600-1868), it would take travelers roughly 10 days to go from Edo (old Tokyo) to Kyoto, the seat of the emperor's court.

Long eclipsed by highways and railways, the Old Tokaido Road is still walkable today, especially near the hot springs resort of Hakone, though some sections of the original footpath are difficult to find. Mr. Evolta will have to use National Route 1 in some sections of the journey.

The footloose droid left Nihonbashi Bridge in Tokyo bound for Sanjo Ohashi bridge in Kyoto. Under the rules of the event, he will only travel during the daytime, try to get at least to the next post station by day's end, and only recharge his batteries once a day. He won't walk in the rain. His progress can be monitored via a Ustream page.

We have high hopes that Mr. Evolta will make it to Kyoto on schedule. His previous stunts, including an endurance course at Le Mans, have earned spots in Guinness World Records, and I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes the first humanoid to walk the old Tokaido too.

(Via Node, Pink Tentacle)