Only in Japan will you see a robot designed to feed you tomatoes while you are running. Because you can never have enough tomatoes during a marathon. And you can never have enough hands to eat those tomatoes with. Named Tomatan, this robot will sit on the shoulders of one of the employees of Japanese tomato company Kagome, who commissioned the development of the robot, during the upcoming Tokyo Marathon. Good thing the marathon is more about surviving than winning, as the employee probably won’t win any races with the contraption on his head.
Why tomatoes? Well, Kagome specializes in tomato-based products for one. Naturally, it is advertising the superb qualities of tomatoes in combating fatigue, something that is definitely needed in a marathon. But eating a tomato by hand would require the runner to stop for a while. He or she must also be able to pace the tomato eating. Such considerations require some form of automation, and what better automation tool is there than a robot.
The fruit-marathon theme might remind you of Dole’s wearable banana and that association, dare we say rivalry, is evident in the video below.
Lest you think Tomatan is just a advertising gimmick, the robot is an actual existing robot built by Maywa Denki, an artistic studio known for its eccentric devices and instruments. Kagome employee Shigenori Suzuki took Tomatan to the first day of the Tokyo Marathon last Saturday. It’s not joking matter, however, as the robot weighs a good 8 kg (18 lbs). Yesterday, however, the company sent a more seasoned marathoner to road test a lighter version of the robot, aptly named Petit-Tomatan, which weighs only 3 kg. Still a strange sight to behold, and one you will probably not see outside of this marathon. Or outside of Japan for that matter.