When Transformers hit movie theaters in 2007, there was a blast of Japanese-born nostalgia that came over much of Generation X and Millennials. Director Michael Bay took us into the universe of the heroic Autobots and their otherworldly opponents, the deceitful Decepticons. It was a marvelous stretch into the unknown, where humans and alien robots were fighting together to defeat evil wherever it may land. In reality, many of these robot friends might have been more useful in helping to repair destruction at a more micro level. Now, mimicking some of what we’ve seen in past Transformers films, Japan is doing just that as they are giving its citizens a peek into the future with giant robots assigned to fix power lines.
As reported by Travel In Your Own Way, The West Japan Railway Company, also referred to as JR-West, is taking service robotics to new heights with a massive humanoid maintenance robot. The company is using Gundam-style robots, which are modeled after the anime franchise Mobile Suit Gundam, which featured fictional military style robotic suits piloted by humans. JR-West says they are being used “to improve productivity and safety,” as these enormous robots are seen in the following video assisting in repairing power lines and providing maintenance.
So far, this video has received a lot of attention globally as Japan looks to the future of electrical energy maintenance. To date, the video has over 245,000 views, and demonstrates a team of people controlling the colossal robots with simple maneuvers and stunning techniques. The robot lifts and careful positions large components, and is also seen cleaning overhead rail structures with a brush. Fixing power lines using a gigantic robot is something we thought might only be possible in the movies using visual effects, but actually bringing the idea to life makes the job seem really exciting.
As New Atlas reveals, the key objectives at play, according to JR-West, are to allow the human workers to hoist and operate heavy equipment around without exposing them to a lot of the risks associated with power line repair, such as electric shocks or even falling from great heights. To make this work, the pilot puts on a set of VR goggles, which are then motion-tracked to direct all of the movements of the robot’s head. From there, using a pair of handles, the pilot can move the robot’s arms and hands, feeling every motion that the robot does in order to help handle weight distribution and steady the controls.
If you were looking for examples of how some countries are moving the human race into the future, then look no further than Japan at this very moment. We often view movies and television as a way to express hopes and wants that will one day become reality in our everyday life. Combining fictional ideas of intergalactic and futuristic approaches as seen in Transformers and Mobile Suit Gundam, along with the real-world needs of human beings on a city-wide level, Japan is hoping their process of building humongous robots will help save the day for power lines everywhere.