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While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed construction projects worldwide, the construction of a Gundam robot — based on a 1970s Japanese animation show of the same name (an anime called "Mobile Suit Gundam") — has continued unabated, according to a YouTube video posted earlier this month.
The 60-foot (18.2-meter) humanoid robot will debut at Gundam Factory Yokohama on October 1, 2020.
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Gundam construction continues despite COVID-19
The 60-foot (18.2-meter) Gundam robot has continued construction since this January. Based on a popular fictional robot from roughly 50 TV series and films since 1979 — including several video games and manga — the Gundam will become an unavoidable feature of the Port of Yokohama (south of Tokyo), where it will stay for a full year, reports Popular Mechanics.
In the video above, workers visibly perform touch-ups on the robot via a crane while the giant Gundam hoists its legs up and down, and later rotates its massive torso. As of writing, the Gundam still does not have a head.
However, when the Gundam is complete, it will have an incredible 24 degrees of freedom — in other words, it will walk. The entire machine will weigh roughly 25 tons (roughly 22,679 kilograms), which is fairly lightweight, compared to how heavy it might have been.
Building a real-life Gundam robot
These advanced weight efficiencies are the result of meticulous engineering and design as outlined in a collection of YouTube videos produced via Gundam Factory Yokohama. For example, one installment gives a tour of where workers designed, constructed, and ultimately assembled the 60-foot (18.2-meter) Gundam. From metal fingertips to wrist-arm connections, the hand is roughly 6.5 feet (nearly 2 meters) long.
The Head of Design for this Gundam project — Jun Narita — said special considerations regarding which types of material and motors to use were necessary because, with the wrong material or motors, the Gundam hand might weigh 1,300 pounds (589.6 kilograms).
"This weight restriction is like a curse," he said, reports Popular Mechanics.
Gundam robot delayed due to COVID-19 coronavirus
Gundam Factory Yokohama's website was updated to note an upcoming special preview event. It was initially planned for this month, but was subsequently canceled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.
Luckily, we live in a post-internet age when nearly everyone's experience of the outside world is flattened — equalized into little snippets of video on 2D screens. This is why, now more so than ever, we should expect the Gundam robot to make a digital debut — hailed by the world, but loved by aspirational newtypes.