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.
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.