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3 Reasons Why Building a Giant Mecha is a Really Bad Idea

6 October 2010 15 Comments

Mechas, we grew up with  them, Voltron, Gundam, The Mighty Orbots, The Power Rangers’ Megazord. It’s a pretty long list. As a kid you thought  it would be cool to pilot one of those things (I still do).  Well, actually it wouldn’t. The whole idea of  using a giant-sized humanoid robot in battle is incredibly ridiculous. Here are 3 reasons why.

1. It would be ridiculously expensive!

How expensive? Try around *960 million dollars!!.. for just one!

Takayuki Furuta, the director of Japan’s Future Robotics Technology Center, did the math. Back in 2008 in an attempt to renew kids’ interest in the robotics field; Furuta laid out plans to construct a life sized fully functional Gundam.

Here’s the breakdown in case you’re thinking of building one yourself.

Gundam Shopping List

Honeycomb Aluminum Boards $105,952,284
Manufacturing $317,762,624
Super Computer (IBM) $2,063,475
Gas Turbine Engines (GE) x7 $481,374,889
Superconducting Motors x 30 $10,132,912
Motor Drivers x 30 $10,132,912
Sensor $1,206,862
Cockpit $603,431
Grand Total $960,000,931

Start saving

I know what some of you are thinking; “That’s not so much. The US military spends more on some of their planes. What about the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber? It’s *$2.1 billion a pop.” Well, the B-2 Spirit is actually a weapon. The above figures for the Gundam does not include the price of arming it. I’m pretty sure the cost of giant guns for a Gundam (or giant flaming swords for that matter) would be astronomical. Plus, how do you plan to get this thing to a war in a foreign country? It’ll need to fly, so add some more bucks for the cost of jet propulsion. I’d choose the B-2 versus a Gundam any day. An undetectable predator of the sky against a giant metal man is an unfair fight. Which leads to our next point.

2. It would be useless in battle!

Completely useless. The ideal setting for a Gundam battle would be a totally flat battlefield. Imagine spending 0.96 billion on your Gundam just to have it trip over a pesky school building and it get damaged. Here are a few terrains where your metal pal would have trouble walking; cities, jungles, swamps, deserts, and mountainous places. I think that pretty much covers everywhere land-based warfare takes place.

It would also have to be pretty much indestructible, because it would pretty much be a huge target for anything on the field with ammo to spare. These things would most likely be slow; it would be impossible to avoid everything coming it’s way. An attack helicopter and a good tank could easily take it down. If you’re the poor soul piloting it you’d be in for a hell of a ride. Speaking of which …….

3. Just piloting it would kill you!

The massive impact exerted for just one footstep of a giant mecha would be enough to kill the pilot. When us humans walk , 1.4 times the impact of our body weight is applied the feet while taking a step; it’s twice that when running. That force is then distributed through out your body. Now imagine the body of a 43 ton mecha. In Mr. Furuta’s own words;

It is rather easy to make a giant robot walk. However, the pilot would die from the large impact of that walking. If a robot weighs 43 tons the impact applied will be 1.8 times that; about 80 tons. How the walking takes place and how to absorb the landing impact both need to be carefully considered.

There you have it. I hope you’re not as heart broken as I am. Oh well, there is still flying cars to look forward to right?

ref: Wired , SimCentral , ScienceLinks and SciencePortal
Pic: Diego Garzon

* Figures not exactly accurate. Converted from yen (2008) to present US dollar.

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