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Japan startup develops ‘Gundam’-like robot with $3 million price tag

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– Tokyo-based start-up Tsubame Industries has developed a 4.5-metre-tall (14.8-feet), four-wheeled robot that looks like “Mobile Suit Gundam” from the wildly popular Japanese animation series, and it can be yours for $3 million.

Called ARCHAX after the avian dinosaur archaeopteryx, the robot has cockpit monitors that receive images from cameras hooked up to the exterior so that the pilot can manoeuvre the arms and hands with joysticks from inside its torso.

The 3.5-ton robot, which will be unveiled at the Japan Mobility Show later this month, has two modes: the upright ‘robot mode’ and a ‘vehicle mode’ in which it can travel up to 10 km (6 miles) per hour.

“Japan is very good at animation, games, robots and automobiles so I thought it would be great if I could create a product that compressed all these elements into one,” said Ryo Yoshida, the 25-year-old chief executive of Tsubame Industries.

“I wanted to create something that says, ‘This is Japan’.”

Yoshida plans to build and sell five of the machines for the well-heeled robot fan, but hopes the robot could one day be used for disaster relief or in the space industry.

Yoshida became interested in manufacturing at an early age, learning how to weld at his grandfather’s ironworks and then going on to found a company that produces myoelectric prosthetic hands. He said he is eager to keep Japan’s competitive edge in manufacturing alive.

“I hope to learn from previous generations and carry on the tradition,” he said.

(This story has been refiled to add a dropped word in paragraph 1)

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