From outward appearances, a Japanese robot unveiled this week makes Godzilla look cuddly. The 13-foot-tall robot is armored, armed and can be controlled from the cockpit or remotely by smartphone. But under its tough exterior, the robot responds to smiles.
An outfit called Suidobashi Heavy Industry created the diesel-powered robot, named Kuratas, which can go from a low to a high position on wheeled legs and move at a top speed of about 6 mph. Touch controls inside the cockpit allow the pilot to move the arms and body smoothly. If you're not inclined to climb up like the Japanese woman in the hilarious how-to demo video, the whole thing can be controlled remotely using a smartphone touchpad.
The weirdest part might be the "weaponry." Although it has iron claws and a carbon shield, the "LOHAS launcher" shoots full water bottles with poor aim and no pivoting, only hitting targets occasionally. A twin Gatling gun can spray BB bullets on a locked-in target. When the pilot smiles, the BB bullets fly. Despite having this "smile shot" feature, the robot doesn't lob cupcakes.
Kuratas could be an addition to your dorky lair for a mere $1.3 million, and it comes in seven characters as well as a number of different colors. When not in use for some sort of robot battle a la "Real Steel" (um, yeah, I did watch that) the company suggests the robot could be used as a helping hand for firefighters, and even cleaning.
Still, Suidobashi Heavy Industry is clear about the robot's limits. "Kuratas is an art piece," their video says. "It is not a normal vehicle, so it doesn't guarantee your safety and comfort." The upshot is that the monstrous machine could make your dream of being a robot pilot come true. If it doesn't fall into the wrong hands first.
Photo: The huge remote-controlled Japanese robot Kuratas. Credit: Suidobashi Heavy Industry