Giant VR-operated humanoid robot used to fix power lines in Japan

The West Japan Rail Company has developed a large, crane-mounted, VR-piloted Gundam-style robot for maintenance along train lines.

1 minute & 21 seconds read time

The West Japan Rail Company (or JR West) unveiled its Gundam-style heavy equipment robot for carrying out repairs.

The robot takes on the appearance of a humanoid upper body mounted on the end of a hydraulic crane arm, which rides around on the rail system atop a specially braced rail car. The rail car can deploy stabilizing legs when it arrives at its destination along the line, allowing the robot to manipulate heavy equipment around the rail system instead of workers "to improve productivity and safety."

The robot is controlled by a human pilot wearing a virtual reality (VR) headset. Motion tracking allows the pilot to turn their head and have the robot turn its head accordingly while streaming what it sees to the pilot. The pilot also controls the robot's arms and hands with a pair of handles, and if an external force moves the robot's arms, that motion will feed back into the pilot's grips.

JR West is collaborating with Human Machinery co. and Nippon Signal co. to develop the robot, which is due to be put into full-time operation in 2024.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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