Japanese Man Builds Pilot-Controlled Robot

January 1, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings 
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. state-of-the-art (adj.) 
[steyt-of-thee-art]– making use of the latest or most advanced technology or techniques
Example: The communication company introduced its new state-of-the-art smartphone. 

2. bring to life (idiom) [bring too lahyf]– to make something real
Example: The actors bring to life the characters in movies. 

3. pilot (v.) [pahy-luht]–to act as a pilot or controller of a vehicle
Example: He must pilot the plane with few mistakes to pass the flight test.

4. schematic (n.) [skee-mat-ik, ski-]– a diagram or detailed illustration showing how to build an object
Example: The carpenters studied the house’s schematics closely.

5. made-to-order (adj.) [meyd-too-awr-der, -tuh-]– made for individual customers according to their specific needs or wants
Example She asked the dressmaker to put ribbons on the made-to-order dress.

Read the text below.

Kogoro Kurata, a 39-year-old Japanese artist, has built a massive robot called the “Kuratas,” which weighs 4 tons and stands at 13 feet (4 meters) high. In addition, the robot is equipped with a pilot seat so that an operator can control it from the inside.

Kurata said it had been his dream to create and to ride robots ever since he was a child. When he was younger, he would watch state-of-the-art robots in films and animation. Many of the robots were big and piloted by people.

Kurata added that robots are a part of Japanese culture, and he felt a robot of this type is something that Japanese should bring to life.

Aside from being controlled from the inside, the robot’s arm movement and operating system can be controlled using an iPhone. The Kuratas can be armed with guns that shoot plastic bottles or pellets. It can also move at a maximum speed of 10kph.

It took a team of engineers two years to build the Kuratas robot from the schematics. At present, the same kind of robot can be made-to-order, although a basic model can cost up to 110 million yen ($1.3 million). Customers can choose additional features for their robot such as cup holders and different paint colors.

The creator said he has received thousands of inquiries from interested buyers, but he did not say how many have bought a robot.

Kurata hopes his act of building a robot would encourage others to create even better robots in the future. He is especially interested in how future society could use robots.

Viewpoint Discussion 
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

·         What was your dream or goal when you were younger? Why was that your dream?
·         Have you fulfilled this dream or have you decided to do something else?

Discussion B

·         How do you think robots will be used in the future?
·         If you could build your own robot, what features would it have and what would it do? Please explain your answer.


January 1, 2013