In 2015, before anyone ever heard of them, or they had a fully functional robot, MegaBots, Inc. picked a fight with the toughest bot on the block: Kuratas, a 6.5-ton cherry red piloted mech created by Japanese roboticist Kogoru Kurata.
Suidobashi Heavy Industries/ YouTube
|Kogoru Kurata and his piloted mech, Kuratas.|
He accepted the Americans' challenge with the theatrical aplomb and provocatively dismissive smack talk of a 1980s wrestler. The stage was set for the Giant Robot Duel, which would commence a year later and ideally kick off a brand new sports league centered around science and technology, but with the entertainment value of football combined with a Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster.
Working out the details of a new sport involving people jammed in giant steel war machines ended up taking twice as long as expected, but that could be attributed to the amount of pressure to succeed heaped on the project after the initial announcement. The concept of real, live giant fighting robots has the type of once-in-a-generation universal appeal that shouldn't be squandered on a haphazard attention grab. If you are into robots, technology, engineering, anime, violence, video games, or all of the above, this is your inflection point.
Now, after two years of anticipation and hype, tonight you can finally see which is the better robot: MegaBots' 16-foot-tall, 12-ton Eagle Prime or Suidobashi Heavy Industries' 13-foot-tall, 6.5-ton Kuratas.
The fight will be available starting 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on Twitch, and aired later on YouTube. It will break down into 30 minutes of videos leadign uop to the fight, then the edited 30 minute battle, and a Q&A with MegaBots after at 11 p.m. ET (8 p.m. PT).
Go here to watch: https://go.twitch.tv/megabotsinc
"We're ridiculously excited to finally be bringing giant fighting robots to the world, Megabots co-founder Matt Oehrlein said via email. "The team has been working towards this for 2 years nonstop, but we're not stopping anytime soon! We're making this into the worldwide sport of the future."
Held in early September over a few days, the bout comprised multiple rounds where the goal was to disable or knock over the other bot. While safety was a major concern of mine before the match, both Oerhelin and fellow co-founder and co-pilot Gui Cavalcanti told me they both avoided being maimed or killed.
They would not disclose who actually won, but winning one exhibition match isn't the victory the MegaBots team has dedicated their existence to; engineering a repeatable, entertaining product is.
After meeting the team, talking with nearly every one of their industrial partners (it takes a village to build a giant fighting robot), and seeing Eagle Prime up close, I can say with utmost certainty the idea is too big (and too damn good) to fail. And I expect the match to answer a lot of questions posed after MegaBots' cleverly released marketing/educational videos and images documenting the design and manufacturing process.
Will they really use that chainsaw hand? Do they really think they can compete against the country that invented samurais and giant robots? Don't they know those exposed hoses are a dumb idea?
Because it's never been done before, I don’t expect the fight to be on the level of Optimus Prime versus Megatron in the original animated movie, although it should be more coherent than any of the Michael Bay attempts at filmmaking.
The most exciting part of all of this is that the grade schoolers more interested in STEM than the gym can achieve the same type of accolades and adoration by flexing their (brain) muscles. And when they grow up, they will make this fight look as antiquated as football game before the forward pass or baseball in the dead ball era. And if they don’t make the pros in this new sports league, their consolation prize won’t be CTE, but rather a high-paying engineering job where they can help fix the planet or design the tech to take us to a new one.
So I guess we can declare a winner even before seeing the fight. It's all of us who believe that robots don't have to our enemy, but can be the vehicle for a better future. And probably even a safer sport than football.