Suidobashi Heavy Industry's Kuratas
Kogoro Kurata and Wataru Yoshizaki show off their 13-foot, 4-ton mech at Tokyo's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
- On the decline of Japanese industry, Kurata says, "Japanese people are good with technology, but I hear people say that they don't know what to make... You can't really make much new without some kind of catalyst."
- Kurata's first mech was a life-size steel replica of the Scope Dog armor from the Votoms anime series. "I made Kuratas wondering 'what would it be like if this thing actually moved?'" said Kurata.
- Kuratas's 6,000 round-per-minute BB gatling gun can be set to fire when the pilot smiles. Other weapons like a water bottle cannon and the "pilebunker" are also up for sale.
- Some lucky visitors were allowed to take a seat in Kuratas's cockpit.
- During Kuratas's development "size and weight were problems." Kurata improvised solutions with a forklift before caving in and buying an overhead crane on Yahoo Auctions.
- Right now, the four-legged mech relies on wheels to get around, clocking a top speed of 6 miles per hour. Kurata would like to experiment with walking, but is constrained by his current space and equipment.
- A space is cleared of Suidobashi logos to make room for the team's sponsors.
- Instead of starting with design diagrams, Kurata began with scale models. Afterward, he created a full-sized version from steel, refining it through trial and error.
- Yoshizaki's software, called V-Sido, powers the robot. Kurata found out about the student's work through blog comments.
- "Steel is my specialty, so that wasn't a problem, but I didn't know very much at all about electricity. Hydraulics were the same — when I needed to know something I looked it up."
- The total price of a Kuratas starts at $1.35 million, but goes up depending on your options. "From the beginning, our business model was to target oil barons," says Kurata.
- A lucky audience member gets to sit in the Kuratas's cockpit. The robot can also be controlled externally with a master-slave function.
- Kuratas relies on 30 hydraulic actuators to move its hulking body. A valve and actuator upgrade means Kuratas can move more than twice as quickly as it could in July.
- When Kurata isn't building giant mechs, he makes a living blacksmithing. "I make things for ads, things that move... steel is the basis of pretty much all of my work."