In this corner: U.S. Based Megabots, with their Mark II! In the far corner: Suidobashi Heavy Industries’ Kuratas. The two robots stand off against each other, pilots staring each other down through the thick grille of their battle robots’ cabins. This sounds like the opening scene to a really cheesy sci-fi movie, doesn’t it? Unbelievably, it isn’t. This battle is a real thing, looming on the horizon for us.
Before getting into the meat of the battle, if you’ve somehow managed to be the only person online who hasn’t watched the videos yet, check out the challenge videos. Megabots issuing their challenge and Suidobashi accepting.
Here’s the short version: the American manufacturer Megabots has been working on their own fighting robot. Pretty much as soon as they got it done, they did the only natural thing, they found someone else with a battle robot and challenged them to a fight. The Japanese company, Suidobashi, has accepted, and in a year they will do battle. Not satisfied to leave the challenge as it was, they have also raised the ante substantially. Not only will these battle robots shoot at each other, unloading storms of paintballs and bbs, but Suidobashi insists that they will duke it out in melee combat.
It’s too much fun not to, so let’s look at the battle robots in detail. The Mark II is a bulkier design, rough-looking, unfinished edges. It has a large cabin sitting on a chassis supported by two stout legs that end in gigantic treads. Right now, the robot has two arms sporting two gigantic paintball cannons, capable of unloading some fairly massive ordnance downrange. A team of two pilots operates the robot in tandem, working to move and aim.
Suidobashi’s Kuratas has a much slimmer design, a far narrower chest piece holding the pilot safe above four legs which end in large tires. The Kuratas is much more flexible than the Mark II, allowing a variety of weapons, both water and missile launchers, as well as a cruel looking claw. A single pilot is all it takes to operate the Kuratas, tucked safely inside the chest, driving the machine with a complicated joystick assembly. We don’t have good information how mobile the Mark II is yet, but Suidobashi has bragged that their machine can reach speeds up to 10 kph.
If you’re reading this, the odds are pretty good that you agree this battle is pretty much the coolest thing imaginable. I really don’t want to rain on this parade, so let’s take a moment and watch the Mark II shoot a few more paintballs.
With that out of our way, there is a looming problem with this challenge: robots are really, really complicated. The systems which allow a robot to function tend to be fairly delicate, and if even one of them gets knocked out, it could very realistically incapacitate the entire machine. Plus there are legitimate questions about how the rules are going to work, how the fight is going to be set up, and we could go on.
Alright, alright, enough of that. Let’s go watch a video telling us how to operate the Kuratas. Because seriously, we live in a world right now where we are a year away from two giant battle robots beating each other into submission for our amusement. What’s more, if Megabots has their way, this kind of competition could turn into a regular event, growing into a standalone sport. For now, though, we’ll just have to keep our ears open, hoping for more updates on the process as the time for the battle comes closer, until we can make a big bowl of popcorn and watch them pound each other silly.
Kickstarter Video for Megabots Robot Upgrade. Update: Kickstarter campaign was fully funded.