The awesome mech battle of your childhood dreams is finally coming true—in Pacific Rim-fashion, two giant robot warriors are set to face off in an epic duel in summer 2016. Last month, Oakland-based MegaBots, Inc. challenged Suidobashi Heavy Industry to the world’s first giant robot duel, pitting “Team USA’s” recently completed Mk.II against “Team Japan’s” KURATAS robot. Suidobashi not only accepted, but also upped the ante by requesting melee (hand-to-hand) combat. Now, Team USA is asking for your support—MegaBots has launched a Kickstarter to raise at least $500,000 to ready the Mk.II for battle and transform it into the most patriotic robot ever.
You don’t need to be a Pacific Rim fan or Gundam enthusiast to appreciate the giant robot duel. Though competitive spirits run high, the two teams are in talks to work out how to make the battle as fun and exciting as possible, while staying unscripted. “We don’t intend to make the duel as safe as possible,” said Matt Oehrlein, co-founder of MegaBots to Inhabitat. “We intend to make the duel as entertaining as possible, while keep[ing] it safe enough for the pilots.” In other words, expect robot destruction, and lots of it.
When asked about the reasons behind challenging Suidiobashi, Oehrlein replied: “The KURATAS robot was the only other giant piloted robot we knew of in the world.” While MegaBots’ Mk.II was only recently completed, Suidobashi’s single-pilot KURATAS was unveiled in 2012 as the “world’s first giant boarding robot.” The $1.4 million, 9,000-pound mech robot is equipped with multiple weapons, including a bizarre smile-activated BB gatling gun as shown in a KURATAS demonstration video. By MegaBots admission, the KURATAS has “a significant speed advantage and is already designed for hand-to-hand combat.”
While the current version of the Mk.II does admittedly look less sleek than KURATAS, MegaBots has assembled an all-star team—including Grant Imahara of Mythbusters fame and BattleBots founders Trey Roski and Greg Munson—to help beef Mk.II up for battle. Unlike KURATAS, the Mk. II seats two: Matt Oehrlein will be the gunner and MegaBots CEO Gui Calvalcanti will be the driver. The 12,000-pound robot is currently powered by a 24-horsepower, two-cylinder gas engine; however, the team hopes to upgrade those specs with Kickstarter funds. The most important modifications to the Mk.II, besides a more patriotic paint job, are preparing the robot for close contact combat.
“Getting the robot to move fluidly and fast enough is a big challenge,” Oehrlein told Inhabitat. “Aiming projectile weapons is pretty easy and doesn’t require much speed and force. Landing a punch with a 12,000-pound robot requires some pretty advanced hydraulic systems.” MegaBots will also need to reinforce the armor to protect the wiring without restricting movement. The team is also working with Howe & Howe Technologies to remake the track base and hope to install an 8-foot-long chainsaw, double-barreled shotgun, chain guns, and other weapons, depending on funds raised. While complete and utter robot destruction is anticipated, MegaBots plans to ensure safety by working with NASA to reinforce the cockpits to NASCAR/F1-grade and potentially install emergency stop buttons.
Though epic, the USA vs Japan robot duel is just the first step in MegaBot’s long-term vision. The company dreams of pioneering “the most compelling live action sports league in human history.” In a vein similar to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the goal is to fill stadiums around the world with giant battling robots and millions of fans cheering on their favorite pilots. MegaBots and Suidobashi have yet to publicly unveil the rules for the fight and the location, however, the battle will likely be fought on neutral ground.
Want to become part of history and support Team USA in the giant robot duel? Head over to MegaBots Kickstarter to make the mech dream a reality, and score some sweet Mk.II swag (or a ride in the cockpit!) in the process.