Elementary school students visited the Gundam Factory on June 21 and manipulated the life-sized robot’s hand via remote control. (Image Credit: Gundam)
Since November 2021, the Gundam Factory Yokohama, home to a massive and mobile RX-78-2 Gundam statue, has hosted educational sessions for elementary and middle school students. The facility taught elementary school students the mechanisms behind controlling the Gundam’s hand during a special June 21 class. These kids also used a remote control to control the robot’s hand. Additionally, they were treated with a preview of the hand while it underwent maintenance.
Gundam’s hand features twelve motors responsible for moving each finger to show and express emotion. Gundam Global Challenge (GGC) technical coordinator Akinori Ishii says these hand movements are essential because the robot can’t produce facial expressions. GGC system director Wataru Yoshizaki said it’s very easy to control the hand since it relies on a pre-written program.
The public can access the facility until March 31, 2023, a date that was extended by a year. The facility was temporarily closed for maintenance starting from mid-May, reopening on July 16. The extension was put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic that led to Japan’s state of emergency, which meant not many people could visit the site. With this extension, more visitors can visit the facility.
Apart from moving its hand, the robot can also walk forward with its arm moving before its right-hand points to the sky.
In total, the facility, powered by wind energy, provided educational support for 1,442 students across 24 schools. The 18-meter-high walking Gundam’s grand opening occurred in December 2020. The Yokohama Satellite cafe at Gundam Factory Yokohama is the only Gundam Cafe remaining now that the four other Gundam cafes closed in June.
Currently, there are four life-size Gundam statues at Bandai Namco. The RX-0 Unicorn Gundam statue from the Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn anime was unveiled at Tokyo’s Diver City Complex in September 2017. Then, in December 2020, Sunrise debuted the mobile RX-78-2 Gundam statue from the first Mobile Suit Gundam anime in Yokohama. The ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam Seed debuted in Shanghai in May 2021. Lastly, Fukuoka’s Mitsui Shopping Park LaLaport unveiled the RX-93ffv Gundam in April 2022.
Have a story tip? Message me at: http://twitter.com/Cabe_Atwell