MegaBots Inc., the Oakland-based engineering renegades who challenged Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industries to a giant human-piloted robot brawl, announced Wednesday via their Kickstarter page “that the duel is still on, though delayed.”
The battle will pit MegaBots’ hulking scrapper MK II against Suidobashi’s nimble ninja-like Kuratas in an undisclosed location at an undisclosed date. Last July, when the Japanese accepted MegaBots’ challenge, the target date for the throw down was this summer.
NED has reached out several times to MegaBots to get more information, but received no answer. The latest announcement, and reasons for the lack of communication, may explain why:
- We're under a mutual NDA with Suidobashi regarding planning for the duel. We cannot legally disclose details about the duel until both parties are ready to release such details.
- We're planning an event in which people are piloting multi-ton combat robots that are trying to destroy each other, without harming the pilots, and that takes a lot of careful consideration.
- We're in active negotiations with the venue of the duel. Any disclosures regarding the nature of or location of the duel would endanger those negotiations, and could prevent it from happening.
- We're documenting the design and fabrication process but don't want to tease much of it until it's finalized and ready to reveal, which won't be for a little while yet.
- We don't want to accidentally give Suidobashi an edge on our design by posting too much about it publicly.
Along with engineering a 6-ton, 15-foot robot that could take on Kuratas, a sleek fighter built by a nation who has grown up on steady diet of Gundam, Ultraman, and Power Rangers, and somehow making it safe for the human pilot as steel fists rain down on the vehicle, the Americans must overcome logistical challenges such as transportation. Round trip air fare could cost $300,000, while travel by ship could take months and result in rust and/or damage.
Is Kuratas the Drago to the Mk. II's Apollo Creed?
Photo: Suidobashi Heavy Industries
It’s hard to fathom this fight not happening, as it’s the coolest thing that could ever happen, and the Kickstarter campaign has already raised $554,592 and the company has gained several corporate partners, including Autodesk and Battlebots.
The hydraulic robot technology is planned to be used for more than just one battle; the parts kit could be used to create a giant fighting robot league. It could also conceivably be used for industrial applications such as fending off Xenomorph queens on distant space colonies, or for moving heavy materials on Earth.
MegaBots says a signed contract should exist “hopefully be within the next 2 weeks based on current negotiations.” A public unveiling of new Mk. II, which may feature a patriotic paint job, isn’t scheduled until mid-November in the Bay area, so the fight wouldn’t be until at least after that.
Artist's conception of Mk. II's patriotic paint job. You'll have to imagine the Lynyrd Skynyrd music blaring from its speakers.
If and when it does come, the Mk. II/ Kuratas bout should draw plenty of viewers and draw millions in corporate sponsorships. A 30-second commercial during Super Bowl 50 cost $5 million. That’s twice the Mk. II’s projected price of $2.3 million.
This exhibition appeals to everyone from anime buffs to gearheads to UFC fans to folks who lost their jobs to Japanese robots in the 1980s and really want to stick it to them.
And on the flip side, Japan has two legitimate reasons to want to kick the ass of a brutish American war machine.
Come to think of it, giant robots punching the hell out of each other transcends language barriers, socioeconomic status, race, and even religion. This has global importance.
We look forward to finding out more details about the technology and debating whether Kuratas’ wheeled legs and fancier footwork will knock the tank treads of the American mecha warrior. But first, we’d like to have some solid proof this fight is going down.
Do you think this giant robot fight will actually happen? Let us know in the comment section below!