Japanese Robot Transforms Into A Car And Back Again Like A Boss

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Transformers ranks as one of the top franchises in the entertainment industry, so it should come as no surprise that transforming robots are an ongoing pet project for robotics developers. But developing a working robot beyond the prototype stage to make it mass production ready is a whole other thing. Yet, that's exactly what a small Japanese robotics company, Brave Robotics, has accomplished.

Through a series of iterative robot designs produced over the past decade, the team led by Kenji Ishida has created a transforming robot called the Brave Robot (version 9) that switches effortlessly into a vehicle and back again. It uses a game controller as a remote control for operation and has an on-board Wi-Fi camera that can be viewed on a tablet. Furthermore, the exterior parts of the 1/12 scale robot are now made using a recently acquired 3D printer, adding to its awesomeness even more.

Check out the bot in action:

In vehicle mode, the car can be steered and moved around as a normal RC vehicle. In humanoid mode, the robot is able to walk, shoot projectile from its arms, and do some impressive hero poses.

It's really worth looking through the project's history to get a sense of how far the project has come from early designs.

For the first "production" run, Brave Robotics produced only 10 robots with each bot coming in its own custom case. Although the price hasn't been announced, the bot is programmed ready to go and with a one month wait time to arrive at your door. In the near future, the company plans to make a 1/8 scale bot next year, and 1/5 scale by 2015. One thing is likely, if the company ever opted to work with a large or even specialty toy company to mass produce this bot, many enthusiasts would grab one for their very own.

Based on the progress the company has made thus far, Brave Robotics will continue to tweak and refine their transforming robot. The problems the team is solving are sure to be of interest to the robotics community and potential clients, especially militaries that are increasingly using unmanned automated vehicles. Whether its practical for a drone, tank, or jeep to be able to switch into a humanoid robot remains to be demonstrated, still the idea is certainly under consideration.

After all, who would have thought that the manufacturer of a robot vacuum cleaner would end up producing health care robots and military spy bots?

Until these bots are easily obtainable, we'll just have to wait for more videos of the cool robot and look forward to the next version soon to come.

David J. Hill

Managing Director, Digital Media at Singularity University
I've been writing for Singularity Hub since 2011 and have been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. My interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but I'll always be a chemist at heart.

Discussion — 8 Responses

  • Improbus Liber November 28, 2012 on 10:32 am

    I will patiently wait for my full scale Optimus Prime or Bumble Bee Transformer.

  • yohosuff November 28, 2012 on 12:31 pm

    A 1:1 scale version would be fantastic, although at that scale safety must be considered, specifically, transforming from vehicle to humanoid form with an occupant in the driver’s seat. It could get messy.

    • David J. Hill yohosuff November 28, 2012 on 4:08 pm

      Personally, I loved Robotech as a kid (and adult) and always appreciated how Veritech fighters accommodated human pilots during transformations.

      Hopefully, Brave Robotics or someone else will make Macross fans happy with a pilotable bot like the Kuratas (see comment below).

  • Damon Edwards November 28, 2012 on 12:39 pm

    I wouldn’t want to get my fingers near that thing while it’s changing back into a car.

  • Josh Holbreich November 28, 2012 on 2:22 pm


    A Japanese inventor created a giant, Mech-like robot controlled from within. The machine, called Kuratas, stands thirteen feet tall and is capable of speeds of up to six miles per hour.

  • Robert Schreib December 2, 2012 on 9:19 pm

    Way cool! Could this company create a portable electric go-kart that you could fold up and carry like a suitcase?

  • eldras December 3, 2012 on 3:50 am

    We’re still clumsy at these scales. The push will be when machines are inventing and manufacturing on command and at micro levels, using the dust around us.
    The atmosphere will be purer. There will be land for all in different dimensions with bookable public meet centers to control crowding. Pretty much anything possible within the laws of science will happen – (including resurrection of the dead using Quantum Archaeology: