If you’re wondering if MegaBots, the company trying to start a giant fighting mech league, is more hype machine or mechanical innovation, we'd be remiss to remind you the two aren’t always mutually exclusive.
Case in point: the recent and much-anticipated debut of the Mk. III, the 12-ton steel giant at Maker Faire in San Mateo, California on May 20, 2017.
The 16-ft. tall red, white, and blue robot, adorned with a screaming bald eagle head on its shoulder and a double-barrel gun a sits left hand, is probably the most patriotic machine you’ll ever see. The dang thing even has 26 degrees of freedom. To put that in context, singer/ songwriter Lee Greenwood only has 22 on a good day.
And the Mk. III remarkably adheres to the conceptual design MegaBots released for its Kickstarter campaign in 2015.
|Ok, so they forgot the bald eagle sunglasses and miniguns, but otherwise, damn impressive execution. The star-spangled chainsaw is a real attachment, though.|
Back then, MegaBots was a small time start up — really just co-founders Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, who built a huge piloted robot, the Mk. II. They hadn’t yet challenged Kuratas, a sleek Japanese mech, to an exhibition fight to settle 70+ years of unsettled animosity between the two nations; they were just a few madcap engineers boiling over with brains and chutzpah.
At Maker Faire 2015 unveiling, the distressed yellow and green Mk. II, which looked like a remnant from a futuristic war by way of a ’90s anime, shot giant paint balls at a sedan:
This year, the $2.5 million Mk. III, tended to by a much bigger crew, and backed by corporate industrial giants including Intel, Parker, and Autodesk, came out swinging.
Its target was a poor, defenseless 1 ½ –ton Toyota Prius dangling from crane. As far as fair fights go, this was the equivalent to the T-Rex versus the goat in Jurassic Park.
Luckily for the Prius, the Mk. III didn’t become a fully functioning robot until a few days prior, so it was limited to 25% of the speed Kuratas will see in August.
|Besides looking 1000% more badass than a Prius, Kuratas will punch back.|
And the pilots weren’t crack duo of Cavalcanti and Oehrlein, who will take on the single pilot Kurartas’ maker Suidobashi Heavy Industries chooses, but rather the Kickstarter backers who paid $5,000 to, you know, punch a Prius.
MegaBots initially made that backer level as a joke, but when people actually ponied up the money, MegaBots said “giddy up.”
Here’s a video of the pummeling:
“The actuators, even at a quarter speed, did an incredible amount of damage to this car,” Oehrlein says. “We’re going to bring the Mk. III back home and tuned up and ready to do battle with another giant robot.”
|If the Mk. III performs as expected, Kuratas will be lucky to look this good after the August fight.|
So far, its ultimate destiny of igniting enough fervor for a real giant robot fighting league seems attainable, if not altogether certain. If at the exhibition (at the still unnamed venue) the Mk. III can function smoothly and deliver the modest entertainment value of an arena football game, maybe at future Maker Faires, we won’t only see Mk. IV’s and V’s, but whatever you and your friends decide to build, too.