Beyond Gundam: Japan’s $2.7 million real-life mech robot is available for preorder

WTF?! Anyone who has ever fantasized about piloting a real-life Gundam robot could see that dream come close to reality thanks to a nearly 15-foot-tall battery-powered mech from Japan. The catch is that owning one will set you back almost $3 million.

Archax, which takes its name from Archaeopteryx, a winged dinosaur, is the creation of Tokyo-based startup Tsubame Industries, reports Reuters.

We’ve seen giant robots from Japan in the past, though the four-wheeled Archax is a lot more advanced. The 3.5-ton machine is driven by a person within the tiny steel cockpit located in the chest, accessible via a ladder. Thankfully, it’s air-conditioned.

Maneuvering is achieved using the four monitors that are connected to the nine cameras integrated into Archax’s exterior, allowing the pilot to see all angles. These screens show the robot’s speed, tilt angle, remaining life of the 300 V DC battery, and other details. The actual movement is done using the dual joysticks and two pedals.

The coolest part of Archax is its ability to transform between vehicle and robot modes using a touchscreen in the cockpit. It can move at up to six miles per hour when in its vehicle mode, which sees the front wheels and back wheels move further apart for increased stability. There’s also an upright robot mode that allows pilots to control the arms, fingers, and other parts.

Ryo Yoshida, the 25-year-old chief executive of Tsubame Industries, told Reuters that he wanted to combine some of the elements Japan is well-known for – animation, games, robots, and automobiles – into one. “I wanted to create something that says, ‘This is Japan’,” he said.

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The Gundam connection goes further than just looks. Anime News Network notes that Tsubame’s CTO Hironori Ishii helped direct the life-size Gundam attraction currently displayed in Yokohama, Japan.

It’s expected that those who are willing and able to spend 400 million yen (about $2.7 million) on one of the five Archax models Yoshida plans to build will be rich robot fans or entertainment companies. But he hopes that the robot could eventually be used for disaster relief or in the space industry.

Tsubame is now accepting preorders for its robot, though buyers will have to wait a year for delivery, which has led some to question whether the company will be able to actually deliver the machine.