There’s probably nothing that will come close getting you near your anime dreams – think Gundam and Macross, and more recently, Pacific Rim – than to be inside the cockpit and holding the controls of a fully ambulant giant robot and walking around with several tons of robotic machinery under you. That’s probably what will happen if you see machinery manufacturer Sakakibara Machinery Works’ gigantic “Landwalker” robot at Chiba Prefecture’s Wonder Festival.
The Landwalker, as it is called by Sakakibara, is an 11-foot robotic behemoth made of metal that one can actually ride and control and move around in. The driver rides the mecha in a cockpit complete with controls and foot pedals. And as robot geeks and nerds go, the controls are actually intuitive – 12 civilians who were at the Wonder Festival were able to have a go at the Landwalker and immediately were able to figure out the controls with very little assistance from the manufacturers and engineers. The staff just briefed the would-be mecha drivers for a few minutes, but really, in no time at all, they were driving the big robot around the assigned space.
The Landwaker is not really a “walker”, because the question really is how the robot would keep its balance once one foot is taken off the floor. Sakakibara resolved that issue by placing wheels under the Landwalker’s feet, making it more like a land “slider” than a true-blue walker. But really, when you can ride a mecha that moves around, who cares whether it technically walks or slides?