Robot maker dreams of turning sci-fi into reality

Japanese robotics startup Tsubame Industries exhibit the ARCHAX robot, weighing 3.5 tonnes and measuring 4.5 meters in height, during the press day of the Japan Mobility Show in Tokyo on 25 October, 2023AFP

Ryo Yoshida has monster-sized dreams for his driveable, "Gundam"-like robot, even though its huge size makes it hard to park and the $3-million price tag will crush most wallets.

An imposing 4.5 metres (14.7 feet) high and weighing 3.5 tonnes (7,716 pounds), "Archax" can be moved and operated by a pilot who clambers up to the high-tech cockpit.

"I want to make people's dreams come true, the dream people once had as a child, which is to get on board a robot and control it just like science fiction movies," said Yoshida, CEO of the start-up Tsubame Industries.

"This is a product to help people taste a bit of that world," the 25-year-old told AFP at the Japan Mobility Show where his monster was a star of the show.

When manoeuvered in the vehicle mode, "Archax" is capable of moving at 10 kilometres (six miles) per hour, according to the company.

It has 26 joints including on two huge hands, which a pilot controls with two joysticks, two pedals and a touchscreen.

One fun use could be getting several of the robots together for a shoot-em-up with toy guns like in the "Gundam" anime series, Yoshida suggests.

"This will be a new sport that still does not exist in the world now. If I can do it, I think I could bring more excitement to the world," he said.

He also envisages more practical roles, such as cleaning rubble after disasters and working at construction sites.

Yoshida said his company's objective is not only creating a robot but also developing a system to integrate a human pilot and a machine.

"This is an idea in which the pilot would not only get on board a robot but also feel as if he became the robot himself, as if he became gigantic," he said.