by Mark Ollig
What happens when a 15-foot-tall, 12,000-pound, gasoline-powered, US MegaBot robot named Mark II, challenges a 13-foot-tall, 9,000-pound, highly-advanced, Japanese Kuratas robot named Suidobashi?
Why, they meet to determine who can defeat the other in robotic combat.
“We have a giant robot, you have a giant robot. You know what needs to happen. We challenge you to a duel,” dared one of the MegaBot co-founders in a recent video directed to the Kuratas robot makers.
This challenge to Japan’s Suidobashi robot was readily accepted in a response video by its makers.
Both of these gigantic robots look as if they belong in a “Transformers” movie.
The Mark II was built by MegaBots, Inc., a company involved in the creation of giant fighting robots.
“MegaBots are 15-foot-tall, internally-piloted humanoid robots that fire cannonball-sized paintballs at each other at speeds of over 120 miles per hour,” according to a statement on their website: http://www.megabots.com.
The futuristic-looking Suidobashi robot is equipped with twin reloading Gatling-like guns, and it traverses via four wheeled “legs.” It is made by Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industry, which produces next-generation robots and robot control systems.
Their website page says they are, “An organization which aims to spread human ride robots. We mass-produce and sell prototype KURATAS by Kogoro Kurata.”
You can view their many robotic videos at the website: http://suidobashijuko.jp.
The MegaBots robotic-duel challenge video can be seen at: http://tinyurl.com/q7bu7a3.
The response video by the Suidobashi maker is at: http://tinyurl.com/o5622n3.
The battle between Japan’s Suidobashi robot and the US MegaBot’s Mark II robot is tentatively scheduled for June 2016.
Robots exchanging punches with each other is nothing new.
How many of you remember a certain 1960s television episode when “Robby the Robot” and the “Lost in Space” robot, battled each other?
Of course, the “Lost in Space” robot won the battle – as it took place during an episode of “Lost in Space.”
In 2000, TV’s “Comedy Central” broadcast a show called “BattleBots,” which had engineering-minded folks designing and building robots which fought each other.
The show included four robotic weight classes ranging from 60 to 340 pounds.
“BattleBots” ran until 2002; however, it started up again last month to what have been reported to be “favorable reviews.”
The upcoming robotic sporting competition between Mark II and Suidobashi is receiving a lot of attention, and shows signs of becoming a well-attended, and probably a Pay-Per-View event.
With very tall and several-ton robots battling with each other, one wonders if events like these will grow in popularity with the public.
You might recall the February 2008 column yours truly wrote about robots brawling with each other inside a popular Minnesota venue.
“Humdinger 2” and “Chucker” were engaged in robotic combat during the Midwest Robotics League competition at the Mall of America, in Bloomington.
I attended this event in person, as my youngest son was a member of the St. Cloud Technical College’s robotics team, which was one of the schools taking part in the competition.
Preparation for this event required students to learn programming and robotic skills.
They accomplished this by designing, building, testing, and operating their robots.
During the competition, crowds of people watching became very engaged and vocal, while the robots battled with each other.
The robotic contest was comprised of two aluminum-framed and titanium-hulled, remote-controlled, 15-pound motorized robots.
They engaged in combat with each other inside a rectangular, impact-resistant, polycarbonate enclosed arena.
The students controlled the robots via radio, and would repair them during breaks in between competition events.
These smaller robotic contests have evolved into today’s “monster-sized” robotic competition – at least in the case of Suidobashi and MegaBot’s Mark II.
The MegaBots’ Mark II robot is piloted by two humans, and uses caterpillar treads for its “feet.”
This robot is able to quickly fire 3-pound cannonball-sized paintballs from any of its 20 rotating cannon-gun barrels.
It cost a reported $175,000 to build the MegaBot Mark II, while the Suidobashi robot came in at a cool $1 million.
MegaBots cofounder, Gui Cavalcanti told Mashable.com that the Japanese robot “is about three times faster than we are . . . their tech is currently more advanced.”
The other MegaBots co-founder, Matt Oehrlein has a Minnesota connection. He obtained his MS and BS electrical engineering degrees from the University of Minnesota.
Meanwhile, Suidobashi Heavy Industry’s CEO Kogoro Kurata was recently quoted as saying, “Giant robots are Japanese culture.”
So, it appears the gauntlet has been thrown down.
A video showing MegaBot’s Mark II using its car-smashing “reloading paintball firing weapon” can be seen on their YouTube channel: http://tinyurl.com/o4n5pgx.
The Feb. 18, 2008 Bits and Bytes column about the Midwest Robotics League competition at the Mall of America, be viewed at: http://tinyurl.com/bitsrobots.
An agreed upon “neutral” robotic field-of-battle location is yet to be determined.
Folks, this is going to be an exciting contest.
Minutes before this epic battle of mechanical giants begins, we could be hearing famed boxing ring announcer Michael Buffer saying: “Let’s get ready to rumble, in the robotic jungle!”