It’s MegaBots v Kuratas. Two colossal nuts-and-bolts warriors. One arena. In the most epic showdown in the history of steel and paintball, America’s giant robot Mark II will fight Japan’s equally-giant robot Kuratas. Neither will stop until there is robot carnage on the battlefield. There will be blood.
In 2015, MegaBots, a start-up based in California, Oakland challenged Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industry to the ultimate robot combat a year from then.
Like something straight out of sci-fi anime, MegaBots’ Mark II and Suidobashi’s Kuratas will engage in a face-off this June.
“You have a giant robot, we have a giant robot – we have a duty to the science fiction lovers of this world to fight them to the death.”
MegaBots’ aim is to make ‘gladiator-style’ robot combat into a legit thing – we’re talking big-time entertainment, with millions of viewers worldwide. A massive sports league, so to speak, with teams from all around the world building robots and battlings others’ in giant stadiums. It doesn’t just stop there, as MegaBots claims that this will serve as a springboard of inspiration for the next generation of engineers.
“We want to bring the giant robots from science fiction and movies and video games to life because now we have the technology,” – Cavalcanti, robotics engineer for MegaBots.
Launched by Matt Oehrlein, Gui Cavalcanti and Brinkley Warren in 2014, MegaBots was the result of the founders’ dream to see ‘massive machines fight’ in reality.
They built the Mark II in barely under a year, and it is impressive – 15ft tall and 12,000 pounds. This steel giant moves on tank treads and has an arm cannon – yes, an arm cannon – that shoots huge paintballs at over 120 mph. Enough to dent a car. Mark II will be shuttled by two pilots, one driver and one gunner.
Suidobashi’s Kuratas is no less intimidating. Standing at 13ft and weighing 9000 pounds, Japan’s Gundam gladiator is lighter and faster on its feet.
While the tank-style tracks slow Mark II down considerably, Kuratas maneuvers on four sets of wheels with legs than can be extended to raise itself or get low. Armed with twin Gatling BB cannons (capable of firing 6,000 BB pellets in a minute) and a water cannon (that shoots missiles), Kuratas requires only one pilot at the helm. Display in the cockpit is augmented reality heads-up and includes an ‘automated target acquisition and tracking interface’ to aim and keep its guns on the opponent.
When MegaBots’ co-founder Matt Oehrlein proclaimed the challenge via YouTube, Suidobashi’s Kogoro Kurata was not rattled. In true Japanese sportsmanship spirit, he said this:
“Come on guys, make it cooler. Just building something huge and sticking guns on it, it’s super American.”
Kurata retaliated with a comeback video of his own, where he stood up for Japan’s OG status – giant robots were a part of Japanese culture first before they bled into the global entertainment arena with TV shows, anime, movies and video games.
Suidobashi has unwavering faith in Kuratas, and given the 12-month preparation period, has no doubts about the probable outcome of the challenge. Matt Oehrlein admits, however, that Mark II is not yet battle-ready.
“The truth is, it’s pretty slow. It’s top-heavy. It’s rusty, and it needs a set of armor upgrades to be able to compete in hand-to-hand combat.”
To fund the modifications, they launched a Kickstarter campaign online and managed to raise more than $550,000 from fans who are eager to see Mark II crush Kuratas to oblivion.
It has been a quite a while since the campaign, and there is currently no news on how the robots are suiting up for war. MegaBots hoped to make their champion leaner, meaner and tougher so it would be fit for hand-to-hand combat (since Suidobashi raised the stakes with their ‘make it melee’ condition). Talking about his expectations for the event itself, Oehrlein said in an interview with The Guardian,
“Everyone wins as long as there is robot carnage. People want to see these things fight. They want to see them punch each other, they want to see them ripped apart and they want to be entertained.”
June is almost here, and the question still remains : Will OPs deliver?