There must be quite a few 'Ghost in the Shell' fans reading Robots Dreams because we received a number of emails asking if we had seen the new Tachikoma robot from Bandai, and what did we think of it. Obviously a short post is in order.
First, we should point out that the Bandai PR photo above is, unintentionally, a bit misleading. The laptop in the background is there purely to indicate that the Tachikoma is a USB peripheral device, and doesn't have any direct relationship to the robots size.
The new robot device would fit inside a 9.5 cm cube - roughly 3.74 inches on each side, which is effectively 1/24 scale. We do have to admit that it is very well executed and a lot of attention was paid to even the tiniest details.
So, what exactly does it do?
Unfortunately, it's kind of hard to tell exactly from the Bandai PR material. We did talk to the Bandai staff that were showing off the Tachikoma last Sunday at the RadiCon PlaModel show here in Chiba. According to their explanation, the robot has a voice memo function, can announce receipt of new emails, and can interact to some extent via some game type applications expected to ship with the robot when it's officially released for sale in February, 2008.
Bandai is pricing the robot at 13,440 yen (about USD$115) and expects to sell 20,000 units before the end of March, 2008. There's no word, at this point, on overseas sales or the overseas pricing. Also - sorry Mac fan boys - this one is currently Windows XP with no mention of plans to have it working on the MAC.