Real-life Transformers could be coming to an amusement park near you
Any kid who grew up watching the Transformers cartoons wished they could have their own giant robot to pilot (at least, we did). But one of those fans grew up, became a roboticist, and made that wish a reality.
Brave Robotics, a Tokyo-based robotics company founded in 2014, just announced the development of J-deite Ride, a 12-foot (3.7m) tall, 1.6 ton (1.45 tonne) robot that can transform into a working car in just over a minute.
The robot won’t be leaping into combat like Optimus Prime: it has a maximum speed of 100 meters per hour (109 yards) in humanoid mode.
But in vehicle mode, it can hit 60 kph (37 mph). And the car’s two passengers can sit inside the car as it transforms around them into robot form.
Brave Robotics developed J-deite Ride in conjunction with Asratec, a subsidiary of SoftBank, which also owns the Boston robotics company behind our favorite somersaulting and door-opening robots.
Sansei Technologies, an Osaka-based game developer that also creates amusement park attractions, also collaborated on the project.
Asratec’s “V-Sido” software taught the robot to walk on two legs, and allows people to remotely operate J-deite Ride in both robot and car mode. Brave Robotics, meanwhile, developed the actual hardware behind the “transforming mechanism”.
Kenji Ishida, the CEO of Brave Robotics, told ABC that he initiated the project based on beloved anime heroes of his childhood.
"The robots I've seen in animation movies since childhood all had this kind of look and they transform into or combined with each other to become something else with people on board,” Ishida said. “So I grew up believing that robots had to be capable of such things, which became my motivation to develop this robot."
So far they’ve kept their giant robot confined to the factory floor, but they’ll show it off in public in Japan during a May racetrack event. Then, this November, they plan to bring J-deite Ride to the IAAPA expo in Orlando, Florida.
Your kid’s new favorite ride?
IAAPA is considered the premier amusement park expo for showing off new ride ideas, and it looks like Brave Robotics and Sansei Technologies are seriously considering putting park visitors into their giant transformer.
“Sansei will seek to develop and commercialize transforming robot type amusement rides for amusement parks, such as ‘transforming go-karts’ or ‘transforming demonstrations at parades,’” the press release reads. They included some cute concept sketches of how they envision the robot being used.
In practice, it’s hard to envision how a go-karting experience would work with cars that could start transforming into a lumbering behemoth in the middle of the track. And, as is, 100 meters per hour would be too slow to keep up with parade floats, let alone to make a race exciting.
Still, the prototype will likely improve its specs over time, and it’s exciting to think that kids (and kids-at-heart) can live out their Transformer fantasies at Disneyland one day.
- Disneyworld’s VR exhibit is letting Star Wars fans live out their fantasies, too