One of my earliest memories of television as a kid back in the early 1990s was watching the television franchise Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. A group of super-tough karate teens battled a screeching moon witch, her skinless husband, and their various sci-fi space goons in episode after episode, inevitably culminating in an epic showdown with a giant Megazord. That’s what I thought of when I first saw this video of a mecha-style robot taking its first steps.
Engineers in Japan had a different TV program in mind, however – one that aired over a decade earlier. The gigantic robot you’ll momentarily see take its first steps was modeled after the Japanese “Gundam” franchise, which began airing in the late 1970s. Even now, nearly 40 years later, the program is a cultural icon in Japan with new spinoffs being created, including a movie in 2021. 
And that is, in part, what inspired the creation of this gigantic and nearly fully functional 60-foot robot.
According to a report in Popular Mechanics, the robot, which at present moment lacks a head and hands, weighs a whopping 25 tons and, once complete, should be able to walk around freely. 
Eventually a head will be added as well as two hands with fingers and thumbs that are fully functional. The hands themselves will be almost 7 feet long.
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic that swept the globe through much of 2020 slowed production of the robot as well as its rollout. Gundam Factory Yokohama, the company behind the robot’s construction, canceled a preview event in June of 2020 due to public health concerns related to the pandemic.
Gundam Factory Yokohama intended for the robot to be on display for the public beginning in October of 2020, but this has also been delayed according to their website.
Nevertheless, they’ve teased the general public with a video showing the robot taking its first tentative step. The footage, which has been edited to play slightly faster than real-time, shows the robot raising its right leg and setting it down.
Watch this mecha-style robot take its first step
A future where wars are fought in giant robot suits, like the Gundam tv series, is likely still far away, and hopefully it never comes. But this giant robot, an homage to a cultural sensation, could be the first step in creating giant mecha-suits to aid in other, more peaceful human endeavors.
Already I can imagine these giant suits being used to move large objects, like shipping crates, or helping in other humanitarian pursuits. But a future where these robots are in full use is a little bit hard to envision this early on. And that’s probably ok.
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- “New Mobile Suit Gundam Movie Announces Release Date Following COVID Delay.” Comic Book. Evan Valentine. Accessed December 7, 2020.
- “Watch Engineers Take Their 60-Foot-Tall Gundam for a Walk.” Popular Mechanics. Courtney Linder. Accessed December 7, 2020.