Gun-toting robot controlled by your smartphone

A Japanese electronics company has revealed a $1.2 million gun-wielding robot that can be controlled from your smartphone.

The KR01 Kuratas Battle Mech, or Kuratas for short, was unveiled by Suidobashi Heavy Industry in Tokyo yesterday at the Wonder Festival.

The diesel-powered machine stands four metres high and weighs a humble 4.5 tonnes, moving around on four wheels at a top speed of 10 km/h.

It sports a Gatling gun capable of firing 100 rounds a second (ball bearings, not bullets), which is activated via facial tracking technology when the pilot smiles. Suidobashi call this "the smile shot" - trigger happy indeed.

Perhaps the most exciting feature of this behemoth is the fact that the "pilot" can control it from the safety of their smartphone. An app, known as the MasterSlave control system, will allow smartphones and tablets full control of the device when connected to a 3G network.

The beast can also be controlled from inside the cockpit, where augmented reality-style controls are overlaid on a display of the outside world. Motion sensor technology allows the pilot to move the torso, arms and hands via 30 hydraulic joints. Kuratas can also grab and pick up things with its claw-like fingers.

The exterior of the Kuratas, which features "shot-proof" armour, is reminiscent of Japanese anime that features giant robots or "mecha", such as Gundam and video games such as MechWarrior. Comparisons were also quick to emerge between it and the Mitsubishi MK-6 Amplified Mobility Platform (aka AMP suit) in James Cameron's epic Avatar, not to mention Robocop.

Kuratas can play nice as well as naughty, and can be programmed to perform such duties as firefighting and cleaning. It comes in 16 different colours, and will be made to order, including a $90 optional cup holder in the cockpit.

Suidobashi Heavy Industry have been working on the robot since 2010, and created a similar prototype earlier this year that was controlled partially with Microsoft's Kinect sensor.

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