When cartoons inspire space exploration

Engineers in Japan have created a 3.5 tonne robotic suit reminiscent of a character from a hugely popular animated series, which they hope to use in space exploration and emergency situations.

Tokyo-based start-up Tsubame Industries has developed the four-wheeled, 4.5 metre tall (14.8 foot) Archax robot that resembles “Mobile Suit Gundam” from the 1970s Japanese show of the same name.

Named after the avian dinosaur Archaeopteryx, the robot has cockpit monitors that receive images from cameras connected to the outside so that the pilot can manoeuvre his arms and hands with joysticks from inside his torso.

The robot, which will be presented at the Japan Mobility Show later this month, has two modes: a vertical ‘robot mode’ and a ‘vehicle mode’ in which it can travel up to 10 kilometres (6 miles) per hour.

Yoshida plans to build and sell five of the machines to wealthy robot fans, but hopes that one day the robot could be used for disaster relief or in the space industry.

Tsubame Industries is one of several start-ups working on robotic exoskeletons, with applications ranging from helping delivery workers with heavy loads to military outfits for “super soldiers”.

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