Japanese engineer builds giant robot to realize 'Gundam' dream

SHINTO, Japan, April 13 (Reuters) - Japanese engineer Masaaki Nagumo had always dreamed of suiting up as a robot from "Mobile Suit Gundam," his favorite animation series growing up. Now he has made it a reality by creating a giant humanoid inspired by the science fiction franchise.

Developed at Sakakibara Kikai, a maker of farming machinery, LW-Mononofu is an 8.5-meter (28-feet) tall, two-legged robot weighing in at more than 7 tonnes. It contains a cockpit with monitors and levers for the pilot to control the robot's arms and legs.

"I think this can be turned into a business opportunity," Nagumo, 44, told Reuters, noting the popularity of the iconic series that has spawned movies, manga, video games and more.

15 PHOTOS
Japanese designer create 28-foot tall robot
See Gallery
Japanese designer create 28-foot tall robot
Sakakibara Kikai's bipedal robot Mononofu is pictured during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo rides a lift to board the bipedal robot Mononofu during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo controls the bipedal robot Mononofu from its cockpit during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's bipedal robot Mononofu is pictured during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's bipedal robot Mononofu is pictured during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo controls the bipedal robot Mononofu from its cockpit during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo opens a hatch from the cockpit of the bipedal robot Mononofu during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo controls the bipedal robot Land Walker (L) next to Mononofu during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo controls the bipedal robot Land Walker during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo boards the bipedal robot Mononofu during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's bipedal robot Mononofu is pictured during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo waits for a lift to board the bipedal robot Mononofu during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's bipedal robot Mononofu is pictured during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Sakakibara Kikai's engineer Masaaki Nagumo explains about the bipedal robot Mononofu during its demonstration at its factory in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, April 12, 2018. Picture taken on April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Masaaki Nagumo, creator of the "Land Walker", sits in the cockpit of his robot in Shinto village, north of Tokyo May 19, 2005. The "Land Walker" was inspired by Gundam, a popular Japanese animated series. Nagumo's single-seat creation is 3.4m high (11 ft) and comes with a price tag of 36 million yen ($335,000) but can also be hired by the day. Nagumo is a machinery maker with Japan's Sakakibara Kikai Co. Ltd. REUTERS/Toru Hanai TH/MSF
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Sakakibara Kikai has developed other robots and amusement machines alongside its main agriculture equipment business and rents them out for about 100,000 yen ($930) an hour, for kids' birthday parties and other entertainment, he said.

The company has created robots as varied as the 3.4-meter tall Landwalker, the smaller Kid's Walker Cyclops and the MechBoxer boxing machine - but the mighty Mononofu towers over them all and executes more complex movements.

It can move its fingers and turn its upper body, and walk forward and backward. It is no speedster, however, moving at less than 1 km per hour.

But what it lacks in pace, it makes up for with power: the bazooka-like air gun on its right arm shoots sponge balls at around 140 kph (87 miles per hour).

"As an anime-inspired robot that one can ride, I think this is the biggest in the world," said Nagumo.

Mononofu, however, might be a bit too large: it is unable to leave the factory without being dismantled because it was built taller than the entrance. ($1 = 107.3900 yen)

(Reporting by Megumi Lim; Writing by Chris Gallagher)

Read Full Story