Robotics Engineers at Work on Real Transforming Car Robot
posted on by Eric Stimson
With transforming robots such an integral part of Japanese popular culture, and with the success of the Transformers film series spreading the image worldwide of giant robots reconfiguring themselves into cars, many wide-eyed kids have wondered: could this be real? Now a team of Japanese robotics engineers are trying to make it happen.
Project J-deite has commenced work on a project that aims to build a robot that can transform into a fully drivable car by mid-2017. In 2014, it made "J-deite Quarter," a 1/4 model; it is only a prototype and not available for sale, but its basic abilities are showcased in the video below.
J-deite Quarter is controlled by the V-Sido OS, an operating system made by Asratec. The completed version, "J-deite RIDE," is intended to be controlled from within in vehicle mode as well. It is planned to reach a top speed of 60 kilometers per hour (37 miles per hour), carry two passengers, and change into a 3.5 meter (11.5 feet) robot in under ten seconds.
The robot will be built by BRAVE ROBOTICS, a company founded by Kenji Ishida. He was inspired to go into robotics engineering in middle school, after wondering why the robots of Transformers and the Brave series didn't exist yet. He studied robotics in college, making a small robot from 100,000 yen (US$810) in savings from a part-time job, and constructed tools like a 3D printer and a CNC milling cutter. He even moved on to study cars when he realized that might be important for making a Transformers-style robot.
Project J-deite has received approval from Takara Tomy, although it is technically separate. It will continue after building J-deite RIDE, with the goal of building an even bigger, 5 meter-high (16.5 feet) robot by 2020. But even that isn't enough for Ishida's ambition. "'Incorporation' [combining] is still waiting," he writes.
Ishida sold 10 early, miniature versions of this robot in 2012.