Japanese technology changes world of video games


Max Deville – Special to the Southern News

Remember all those old Saturday night cartoons on television where kids in giant robots would fight one another? What about the old Power Ranger show where the heroes would combine in a giant Zord to fight evil? Well, wish no longer because now that is now an actuality.

As a bit of background back in 2012 members of the Japanese Liberal Democratic party began discussing plans to enact a “Gundam” project.  Gundam, for those who never saw the show, is an anime wherein nations of the world used giant bipedal armored mechanical suits of armor the size of small buildings with weaponry as their main sources of self-defense. While during times of the talks they did not want to do this specifically, reportedly the plan was to begin instituting programs for mechanical war machines of that nature.

This idea and concept is what lead to the production of the Kuratas mobile mech units created by Kurata Kogoro and produced by Suidobashi Heavy industry. Revealed at the 2012 Tokyo Wonder Festival was a 12.5 foot tall robotic suit with a pilot in a cockpit in the chest portion of the robot. At the showing of the Kuratas at the festival, the show model was equipped with a BB Gatling gun which could fire roughly 6,000 rounds per minute and is activated through facial recognition: the pilot’s smile.

The Cockpit itself where the pilot rests is self-contained unit wherein the pilot wears a suit which connects with the main command center. From this position the pilot has a Heads Up Display showing what is going on outside of the mech as if the pilot were watching a small T.V screen. To move the Kurata the pilot moves forward joysticks within the console to drive the Kurata forwards, backwards, and even side to side.

The most impressive aspect about the mechanics behind the piloting is that the suit reacts as one moves, the gloves of the suit will cause the individual fingers and hand of the suit to move as if it were your own hand.

The series of attachments are also what make these suits unique. When on the Suidobashi Heavy Industry website you can choose to fully customize your own Kurata. This customization includes, but is not limited to: weapons, armors, accessories, as well as even cup holders.

The weapons though, to ease anyone’s major concern, are not loaded or prepped for actual live rounds. However, the utilities of the suit itself can be used for actual harm given the load outs such as the Gatling gun, or a launcher on the shoulder, or even a pile bunker.

Currently in Japan there have been no restrictions or legal actions taken against the company for producing possibly harmful machinations. As well the Japanese government has made no more mention of whether or not this is part of, or if their own plan has progressed any in the past two years.

The best part about the Kuratas though, has to be the fact that they are commercially available to the public. There are only two issues regarding this fact. The first being that the cost is exorbitant. To buy your own Kurata you will need approximately 1.01 million dollars US and up depending on customization. The cost in Japanese Yen is 120 million, with 350 yen shipping (about four dollars US) for shipping in the Kyoto region of Japan.  The second issue is just that, the Kuratas only directly ship in the Kyoto Area. If you want to have one stateside you will need a lot more money.

In short, this is one of the furthest technological innovations seen on the commercial market mainly due the novelty, and the main fact that one could ride around in a robotic battle armor which could pave the way to future military advancements.

Photo Credit: Kazuyoshi Kato

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