Cyberbrains, walking tanks, and prosthetic bodies. The Ghost in the Shell universe of 2029 is fast approaching, and Tokyo Tech researchers are making it happen. The Suzumori-Endo Lab of the School of Engineering received the 2016 Ghost in the Shell Realize Project award in the robotics category for the development of their flexible artificial muscle.
An award ceremony was held on March 25 at AnimeJapan 2017, one of the world's largest animation conventions, where Professor Koichi Suzumori of the School of Engineering, 1st-year doctoral student Shunichi Kurumaya, and 1st-year master's student Ryusuke Morita collected their accolades.
The fall of 2014 marked 25 years since the release of the animated series Ghost in the Shell. At the time, R&D experts at companies and universities, public institutions, and the Ghost in the Shell Production Committee formed an industry-academia body and launched the Ghost in the Shell Realize Project to pursue the realisation of near-future technologies depicted in the acclaimed animated series.
At the awards, Japanese technologies most closely resembling those used by the "mobile armored riot police," the central characters in the series, were selected from the creations introduced on the project's website and SNS pages between April 2016 and February 2017.
Based on a variety of data, judges selected winners in two categories — artificial intelligence and robotics — as well as the winner of the Judges' Special Award.
Research on thin, flexible artificial muscle carried out by Professor Koichi Suzumori and his team has been highly evaluated. Based on the results of this research, s-muscle Co., Ltd., a venture company originating from Tokyo Tech and Okayama University, was founded in 2016.
The company utilises weaving and bundling of artificial muscle fibres, making possible the creation of various forms of muscle that can be widely utilised, for example in support suits and corsets that are light, soft, comfortable. The company also anticipates use in new robots and other assistive equipment that are in direct contact with humans.