TRANSFORMERS, more than meets the eye. Transformers, robots in disguise.” It’s a theme tune that millions of people around the world will recognise, after the success of the Transformers cartoon and movie franchise. But ever since the robots that could change into vehicles first captured the imagination of children, in 1984, many of those fans have been wondering when the science fiction characters might be brought to life.
Now a consortium of Japanese technology companies has created a real Transformer: J-Deite Ride.
Part car, part robot, it weighs 1.7 tonnes and towers at 13-ft high. Two people can sit in the cockpit – whether it’s in car or robot mode – and it can walk or be driven.
The J-Deite Ride is the creation of two robotics companies, Asratec and Brave Robotics. Scale 1/4 versions of the Transformers character – shown in the video below – have been previously released. But this is the first time a full scale Transformer capable of moving under its own steam has been built, after nearly four years of hard work.
However, before sci-fi fans picture a future where good robots battle the bad guys, it should be noted that J-Diete Ride is only a little faster than a snail, taking one hour to cover 300 feet when walking.
And in the time it takes to transform back to a car – which is said to achieve nearly 40mph – the bad guys would have not only fled the scene of the crime but had time to pick up a coffee too. The change from car to robot takes nearly one and a half minutes.
However, instead of scoffing at its limitations, let us praise the real-life Transformer. The man behind it, Kenji Ishida, has vowed to continue development, in the hope that car-robots can become a commercial reality.
In the meantime, J-Diete Ride will be displayed in parades and at amusement parks in Japan – and children are bound to gather at its feet and stare in amazement.