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Here’s a Gundam-Style Giant Robot Fixing Railway Wires So Humans Won’t Have To

Depending on which take on the future you believe, robots are either humanity’s saviors or its doom. But before making predictions about the future, consider this: any robot that can save human lives right now can’t but be a good thing.
Prototype of a gigantic robot worker fixes railway wires in Japan 10 photos
Prototype of a gigantic robot worker fixes railway wires in JapanPrototype of a gigantic robot worker fixes railway wires in JapanPrototype of a gigantic robot worker fixes railway wires in JapanPrototype of a gigantic robot worker fixes railway wires in JapanPrototype of a gigantic robot worker fixes railway wires in JapanPrototype of a gigantic robot worker fixes railway wires in JapanPrototype of a gigantic robot worker fixes railway wires in JapanPrototype of a gigantic robot worker fixes railway wires in JapanPrototype of a gigantic robot worker fixes railway wires in Japan
This is what this gigantic Gundam-style robot wants to be, a savior of human lives. It’s a prototype currently being tested by the Japanese railway company West Japan Rail Company, aka JR West, and introduced to the public last month. Developed in partnership with Human Machinery and Nippon Signal, it’s a robot worker designed for repairs and maintenance work on power lines or, as JR West puts it, “to improve productivity and safety.”

The robot doesn’t have a name yet, but seeing how JR West is planning for a formal introduction to the workforce by early 2024, it still has plenty of time to come up with one. Able to lift weights of up to 88 pounds (40 kg) to a height of 32 feet (9.7 meters), the robot worker will replace humans in jobs that present risks of electrocution or falling.

It doesn’t move particularly fast, but considering its size and the kind of work it does, that’s probably a good thing. The robot is operated by a human pilot who uses a VR headset and hand controls to move the long arms and hands; according to JR West, the human operator will receive feedback in the handles if an external force acts on the robot’s arms, so as to be able to take appropriate action. It sits on a rail car with stabilizing legs and a crane that lifts the torso (and everything attached to it) to the desired height.

The tweet below includes a video of Japan’s future railway robot worker in action. Obviously, this isn’t the first time a robot has ben used to do stuff humans used to do before, but it is perhaps one of the first robot workers of this size. And if you’re feeling panicky at the thought that robots are taking over, think of it this way: at least this one won’t look you in the eyes like the creepy, skinless, limb-less torso in a crisp white shirt Disney created.



 
 
 
 
 

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