Japan’s Ministry of Defense Discusses Gundam Realization Projects After 10 Years
The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan created a buzz in 2012 after it “seriously considered” a “Gundam Development Project.” Before that, the now-defunct Technical Research and Development Institute in Japan’s Ministry of Defense included a ground equipment exhibit titled “Towards the Realization of Gundam (Advanced Personal Equipment System)” in a symposium in 2007. With rumors about the Japan Self-Defense Forces developing real-world Gundam robots spreading for the past decade, the Oricon News website decided to investigate the current status of Gundam development projects.
The Type 87 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (seen above right) that the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force uses resembles the RMV-1 Guntank II mobile suit from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. A former Japan Ground Self-Defense Force member explained that people had never seen anything like the Type 87 when it debuted, but they noticed it resembled the Guntank II from Gundam. Because of that, people nicknamed it “Guntank.”
Many Gundam fans anticipated that a real Gundam would come as the next step after the Guntank II in the government’s projects to realize technology from the Gundam universe. However, the representative from the Ministry of Defense dispelled those rumors. He explained that a member of the former Technical Research and Development Institute had attached the name “Gundam” to the “Advanced Personal Equipment System” (seen left) in order to make the project accessible and easy to understand for citizens.
The representative explained that the “Advanced Personal Equipment System” project is finished, but current technology research is developing powered suits that can enhance soldiers’ mobility and maintain balance on uneven terrain.
Giant humanoid robots like those seen in Gundam may be an eternal dream, and Japan’s Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency confirmed that there is currently no research underway to make humanoid robots to take the place of soldiers. But autonomous unmanned devices have become mainstream weapons, and the development of powered suits could eventually lead to the advancement of technology reminiscent of that seen in the Gundam.
Yoshiyuki Tomino already drew inspiration from the humanoid powered suits of Robert A. Heinlein‘s Starship Troopers when he created the Gundam franchise. However, the mobile suit robots of Gundam are about ten times the size of humans. Even if giant humanoid robots remain fantasy, the world of science fiction will likely continue to inspire developments in real-world science and technology.