Tachikoma, At Your Service
by Michelle "Ms. Geek" Klein-Hass
America can boast of the cute robots they've put in movies for people to AWWW over. There's R2D2, BB8, Robby The Robot, Twikki and Dr. Theophilus from the Buck Rogers TV series, the Drones from the '70s movie Silent Running...we've got a lot of them. However, Japan has always been the HQs for cute robots, starting with Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom) and moving forward from there.
Certainly the Tachikoma from Ghost In The Shell: Standalone Complex fill the bill for robots that are both cute and fearsome at the same time. They are both helpers and weapons for Section 9, the police special weapons and tactics unit that Major Motoko Kusanagi and Batou are a part of. The Tachikoma became beloved characters in and of themselves, and a spinoff series of shorts, Tachikomatic Days were added to the end of both GITS SAC series.
Production I.G has been busy bringing the technology from the GITS Universe to life, as part of an enterprise they have started with NTT Docomo, IBM and other firms. The Ghost In The Shell Realize Project was announced in 2014, and in February of this year some preliminary items from the project were shown off. One of them was a mechanical joint for a 1/2 scale Tachikoma, to be built by electronics companies Amauchi Industry and Karakuri Products. By May, a full non-working mockup of the 1/2 scale Tachikoma was displayed at Nico Nico Douga's Nico Nico Super Conference 2016.
And now, the 1/2 scale Tachikoma seem to be ready for prime time. Ahead of schedule. They will be carrying products you buy at Production I.G's retail store in Tokyo, beginning December 23rd, and continuing through to mid-January of next year. They will also be visiting Production I.G's store in Osaka after they debut in Tokyo.
The patron of the store orders goods in the store, then, using their iOS mobile phone (sorry Android users!) they summon a Tachikoma to bring out their haul. The robot brings the customer their stuff, in a very cute way.
It's sort of an extension of the kind of things we've been seeing from companies like Amazon, which have been experimenting with drone helicopter delivery of packages. Could a cute little Tachikoma replace the human beings who fetch products you buy from a warehouse next door to a shop? Maybe. In any event, this is pretty amazing.
Google Translate: Famitsu.Com