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Dreams Come True: Real Mecha Debuts At Wonder Fest 2012

The Kuratas mecha (aka Vaudeville), an outrageous art project by Suidobashi Heavy Industry, made its official public debut at Wonder Fest 2012 this weekend.  Built by iron worker and artist Kogoro Kurata (right, above photo), Kuratas stands 3.8 meters (12 ft 5 inches) tall and weighs 4,500 kg (9920 lbs).

Kurata has some experience building giant robots, having previously created a statue based on the Scopedog mecha from the anime Votoms.  He was also involved with JFE’s project to build a life-sized statue of Tetsujin 28-go (Gigantor), but had to quit the project due to various circumstances.

In January 2010 he built a vehicle for Castrol Japan that could kick a soccer ball at 200 kph (see here).  It wasn’t long after that that he got the idea to build a real robot that could be driven by a human passenger, and by September 2011 had built much of the main chassis.

Video:

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A combination of touch screen interface, master-slave controls, and body gestures (with a Microsoft Kinect sensor) allow the pilot to control the robot’s arms.  All of the above is made possible through the use of V-SIDO software (pronounced Bushido) developed by Wataru Yoshizaki, who joined the project early on to wire the internal circuitry.  This specialized robot control software is also being used by RT Corp to control the much smaller RIC-90 robot.  Yoshizaki says he wanted to build controls that didn’t involve a mouse and keyboard, which would look especially uncool in a giant robot.

Disturbingly, this version comes with smile-activated twin BB Gatling guns that can shoot up to 6,000 BBs per minute.  A camera inside the robot detects when you smile and the guns fire.  That’s not to say that Kurata wants to make war machines.  In an interview with Gigazine, Kurata said he hates the thought of his creation injuring people.  It’s all just for fun, including the silly “eco-missiles”, but the robots could be used in a kind of next-generation Survival Game.  Kurata suggested that the oil sheiks in Abu Dhabi might be interested in buying several units to host robot tournaments.

The project planners didn’t skimp on the website, either: you can customize the base model with different weapons, parts, and color schemes (automatically previewing your changes on a 3D model) when you click on the “Buy Dream Now” button.  Just be prepared to pony up if you want to order your own, as the base model begins at no less than $1,353,500 USD!

A few more videos and some photos follow after the break.

[source: Suidobashi Heavy Industry] via [Gigazine, 2 (JP)]

Video (official promo):
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Video (unveiling):
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Media:


Image credit:
GigazineKotaku