Japan builds functional Transformer
This post was originally published on Mashable.
Your dream of a sports car that transforms into a real robot just inched closer to reality.
Brave Robotics, Asratec Corp. and original Transformer creator Tomy Co Ltd, have joined forced to build J-deite, a one-quarter-scale autobot that starts as humanoid, bipedal robot and transforms into a tiny, roughly 3-foot-long sports car. Sorry, it's still too small for you to drive.
Despite the diminutive size, the robot is unmistakably part of the Transformer family. Officially known as J-deite Quarter because its one-fourth of the final planned size, the roughly 5 ft tall humanoid robot's 77 lb-pound body is covered in blue car body panels and the face has the grim, determined look of Optimus Prime.
J-deite is not a toy. As a car, the two-seater can drive up to 6 mph with about 1.5-inches of road clearance. In humanoid mode, it can walk at .6 mph and move its arms, hands and fingers. It runs on V-Sido, a proprietary software system developed by Ishido's partner Wataru Yoshizaki of Asratec Corp and can operate for roughly one hour on a single charge.
Kenji Ishida of Brave Robotics (left) and Wataru Yoshizaki of Asratec Corp work on the Transformer robot.
Between now and 2020 developer Kenji Ishida of Brave Robotics plans to build a full-sized J-deite Transformer that turns into a 16-ft-long car. As Ishiba explains on the project web site, "The goal of Project J-deite is building of a giant transformable robot of 5 m long. It is the same size as a car. An object of the same size transforms, walks, and runs." It's not clear, though, if this robot will, when it's in car mode, also accommodate a driver.
This is actually Ishida's second Transformer robot. The first one, unveiled in 2012, was desktop sized and didn't look much like its namesakes.
Transforming and self-configuring robots are becoming a bit of a trend in robotics. Ecole Polytechnique Federerale de Lausanne (EPFL), for example, recently unveiled robots that can turn into furniture (less cool, but more practical).
While the Transformer robot and its abilities are quite real, there is a section of the J-diete Project web site devoted to the discovery of a fictional green-glowing meteorite with interstellar communication properties. Found under the "Story" section on the site, it may be a nod to the Transformers' arch rival Decepticons' pursuit of green crystals from the Earth's core.
Perhaps this was the only way they could get Tomy LTD's blessing. Hasbro, which owns the rights to the Transformers brand and has produced numerous Transformers movies, has been mum on the subject of this robot.
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