Over the last century or so, transforming robots have reached their way into popular culture through a variety of creative outlets — nostalgic mid-century animation, articulated plastic toys, jaw-dropping cinematic CGI, and more. With a strong historical legacy, people around the world are now finally building actual shape-shifting robots.
An amazing example comes from a Tokyo-based robotics firm known as Brave Robotics whose team has built a fully functional robot that beautifully folds down into a car. It took them about a year to develop. During the R&D process, they created a handful of prototypes culminating in the “J-deite Quater” robot in 2014. The result was about 4.3 feet tall, a ¼ size of their final goal.
In humanoid form, the robot can move its hands and fingers. It can even look around, flashing the green lights on its head as it walks before quickly folding itself into a vehicle ready to hit the road.
For the most part, the project was made primarily internally within the company. Another firm called Asratech Asratec provided additional support for the operating system to produce the V-sido OS used in the robot. This software system allowed for robot actuator control, which is often used in several humanoid robots including “Kuratas” for its advantage of automatic balance control.
We spoke with one of their team members, Jun Asami, at a Maker Faire in 2016 about their future plans. The next iteration will be around 12 feet in height, which is projected to be done sometime in 2017. Talk about a ‘larger than life’ humanoid robot! To make that happen, Brave Robotics is raising capital to complete the giant transforming robot.
To start, they will adapt their current project in an effort to increase the size. They also plan to make a movie related to their work and mass-produce a transforming toy robot. Their CEO Kenji Ishida is helping to lead these projects.
Additional information can be found on their website.