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Secretive Giant Fighting Robot Maker Opens Up with Web Series

MegaBots, Inc., the renegade roboticists trying to start a UFC for giant piloted robots, are opening up the hood with a series of videos about their advanced engineering practices.

When you announce you’ve built a giant human-piloted robot and then go and challenge Japan to fight their giant robot, you gotta' give the people what they want leading up to the battle: information. Any information will do.

What you don't want do in an oversaturated media environment, where everything from baby sloths to space exploration competes for attention, is to shout out possibly the best idea ever (if you're a hopeless manchild who grew up in the '80s) and then go radio silent. 

But that’s what the Oakland-based startup MegaBots, Inc. did, stirring up skepticism, especially among the 7,857 Kickstarter backers who chipped in more than $500,000 to upgrade the 16-ft tall, 10-ton, 350-HP mech suit, after igniting a global frenzy for metal-on-metal violence last summer.

Is this MegaBots prototype ready for battle? We'll find out in the company's new web series, launching Sep. 28. 

They first whetted our collective appetite for robot destruction with a video last June challenging Kuratas, an anime inspired robot completed in 2012.

                      The Japanese don't just make anime; they make it real.

Suidobashi Heavy Industries, the roboticists behind the 13-ft tall, 5-ton Autobot-looking construct, gleefully accepted.

“You grew up hoping that the giant battles of science fiction would become real, and we did too,” said MegaBots founder Matt Oehrlein in a Kickstarter video posted Aug. 18, 2015. “That dream is one year away.”

                                                               Is this vision of a robot fighting league as cool as the one in your head?

The stage was set for the start of what could be an actual Giant Robot Fighting League, with both sides playfully engaging in professional wrestling-style theatrics.

“If we’re going to win this, I want to punch them to scrap and knock them down to do it,” inventor Kogoro Kurata stated coolly in his native Japanese.

Excitement and hype soon became just as cool in the following months, as the Oakland-based MegaBots remained fairly tightlipped about when, where and even if this battle would actually take place.

It looked as though this giant robot battle was either a PR stunt or not possible to do safely, although with $3.85 million in capital raised from investors and a multitude of industrial partners, ranging from Autodesk to Parker Hannifin, it sure seemed legit.

Then this July, MegaBots released a mea culpa for the lack of communication, explaining that due to a non-disclosure agreement, as well as logistical and competitive considerations, not much could be revealed. Then they promised more details would be released in the coming weeks and months.

Today, in an exciting turn, MegaBots announced the creation of a web series documenting the engineering process, from its robot subsystems to weapons systems to how they will get an iron giant that weighs more than a killer whale ready for melee combat.

 A human will be in each of these iron giants, and keeping them safe in the cockpit will the major engineering hurdle.

Co-founders Oehrlein and Gui Cavalcanti are co-producing the series with an Emmy-nominated production staff, according to MegaBots. The first episode will become available online on Sep. 28.

Take a look at the trailer to once again get pumped for the most epic battle of our time:


So, we still don’t have  a clear idea of exactly when the Giant Robot Duel will occur, but at least we can geek out at seeing how all the heavy machinery and weaponry, including a chainsaw sword, will come together to cut Kuratas down to size. And if you are in the Bay area in mid-November, MegaBots is planning a demo day at an undisclosed arena.

What self-respecting robot battle doesn't have a chainsaw sword? That's right. None.
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