Robotic Mecha Proposed for Japanese Party's Manifesto

posted on 2011-02-17 21:05 EST by Egan Loo
Legislator writes on proposal for Gundam/Patlabor-like "piloted, two-legged walking humanoid robots"

Masaaki Taira, a member of Japan's national legislature, reported on his Twitter account on Wednesday that the Liberal Democratic Party will consider adding the efforts to make "piloted, two-legged walking humanoid robots" a reality into the party's platform manifesto. Taira also posted an extended discussion about the feasibility of piloted walking robots, using the Gundam, Appleseed, and Patlabor anime and manga as examples.

Taira broached the topic after meeting with Katsuya Kanaoka, a professor of robotics from Kyoto University. Taira noted that the current efforts in robotics are aiming for something more akin to Appleseed's powered exoskeleton suits before they can approach the giant walking machines similar to the 18-meter-tall (about 59-feet-tall) Gundam. Still, he asked online, "Is it possible for a 1/1-scale Gundam to walk?"

Taira then wrote the following Twitter posts:

Why don't we aim to make Japan's two-legged walking robots walk on uneven terrain?
12:32 PM Feb 16th

Gundam is a symbol, not a goal — of a giant humanoid industrial machine piloted by a human onboard. The core technology already exists. The issue is the feasibility of turning it into a viable industry. The true goal is the mass production of [Mobile Suit Gundam anime's mass-produced robot] GM. Gundam is a prototype to make people interested.
1:05 PM Feb 16th

To operate [a robot] with just levers and pedals like Gundam is tiresome. An interface between man and machine is essential。There is the image of the Landmate [powered suit] that appears in Appleseed. Powered suits are far too difficult. We really should do a piloted model.
1:12 PM Feb 16th

To expand the built-in capabilities, it would be better to make the robot bigger.
1:13 PM Feb 16th

Walking on uneven terrain is only possible after a budget of nearly 1 billion [yen or about US$11 million]. Not an autonomous one — one that a human can pilot. A two-legged walking robot will fall down. We have to program it to safely land beforehand. Also, we can cover an interface between man and machine.
1:21 PM Feb 16th

The level of stability increases with six legs ([Ghost in the Shell's] Tachikoma* model), but interfacing with a person's body (+ senses) is the biggest issue.
1:41 PM Feb 16th

[In response to another person's suggestion of using Iron Man instead of Gundam or Tachikomas as examples] Iron Man is technically difficult because it is a powered suit. A piloted model is simple.
2:45 PM Feb 16th

It's like you said [in response to another person's suggestion of using the lesser known but smaller labor units in Patlabor instead of Gundam as examples]. Having robots be 3-5 meters tall would be realistic。We should make the first one Patlabor-sized.
2:48 PM Feb 16th

Maybe the efforts to make piloted, two-legged walking humanoid robots a reality will be submitted into the manifesto for the Liberal Democratic Party. I am proposing this to Policy Chairperson [Shigeru] Ishiba. It will be discussed at the meeting of the party's economic and industrial policy committee. I was once the head of this committee, but last September, I passed it off to Yasutoshi Nishimura.
6:04 PM Feb 16th

Images © Sotsu, Sunrise
©1988 Headgear/Emotion/TFC

Update: *Tachikoma's anime corrected. While Ghost in the Shell's creator, Masamune Shirow, has created six-legged robotic mecha, the Tachikoma have only four legs. Thanks, enurtsol and Guilhem.

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