Unexpectedly Intriguing!
09 October 2020

Inventions solve problems. Mostly, the problems they solve are practical in nature, with their utility being pretty obvious to most observers.

But sometimes, the problems they solve can be completely whimsical. These inventions say a lot more about the imagination of the inventor than they say about the nature of the "problems" that inspired their creation.

These inventions still takes loads of ingenuity to develop, which is why the Inventions in Everything team gets excited whenever we come across an invention in this category. That's why we're especially excited to introduce the Tomatan robot, which was specifically developed to ride on the backs of marathon runners in order to provide them fresh tomatoes to eat as they're racing!

No, we're not making this up. There's video of the invention in action from 2015, which may make for the second best minute of your day!

Credit for the device belongs to the creative minds at Japan's Maywa Denki design firm, where founder Novmichi Tosa confirms their designers "used about 100 tomatoes to complete this machine."

The finished product weighs 17.5 pounds and can carry six medium tomatoes. As for what it does with those six tomatoes, if it wasn't clear from the video, here's a written description:

When the runner feels like it’s time for a nutrient boost, they simply tug a lever in the robot’s foot, which causes a tomato to pass from the dispensing chute into the robot's hands. Its arms then rotate forward, bringing the fruit to the runner's mouth.

Tomatan was commissioned by Japanese ketchup and tomato juice producer Kagome, which used the opportunity of the 2015 Tokyo marathon to introduce the world's runners to the first ever hands-free, fresh tomato serving robot.

The Tomatan "wearable tomato" robot was later featured in a music performance, which may be the best minute of your day:

Built to serve a very niche market, that of the tomato-fueled marathon runner, Tomatan robots haven't yet become as ubiquitous as its inventors may have hoped. The robot however did manage to achieve its real purpose, attracting media attention for its sponsor, so it honestly qualifies as a successful invention.

Sadly, we couldn't find if a patent was ever issued for the Tomatan robot, but not all inventions are patented. Some are simply gifts to the world.

From the Inventions in Everything Archives

Want to see some of the other food or robotic inventions we've featured? Here's a short, targeted trip through our archives!

And because we're getting close to *that* time of year...


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