U.S. Robot Maker Challenges Japanese Firm to War

Megabots (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)
Eric Risberg / Associated Press

An American firm is challenging a Japanese company to an all-out giant robot battle.

Oakland-based Megabots Inc. wants to pit its creation, the 15-foot Mark II, against the 13-foot Kuratas, made by Tokyo-based Suidobashi Heavy Industries.

Kuratas giant robot (Kazuyoshi Kato / Flickr / CC)

Kuratas giant robot (Kazuyoshi Kato / Flickr / CC)

The aim is to create a new global spectator sport. As the Associated Press reports:

Win or lose, it’s all part of Megabots’ plan by to make gladiator-style robot combat into big-time entertainment — a mix between Ultimate Fighting Championship and Formula One auto racing — while developing new industrial technologies and inspiring a new generation of engineers.

The Megabots founders envision a sports league where teams from around the world build huge humanoid robots that throw each other down in stadiums filled with screaming fans.

“Everyone wins as long as there is robot carnage,” said Megabots co-founder Matt Oehrlein, an electrical engineer. “People want to see these things fight. They want to see them punch each other, they want to see them ripped apart and they want to be entertained.”

Megabots issued the challenge for “melee combat” on YouTube in July, complete with Japanese subtitles.

The Japanese company has accepted the challenge, though the date and time have yet to be arranged.

The competitive league would hope to build on public enthusiasm for robot battles such as those enjoyed by American television audiences in the recently-revived series Battlebots, when amateur engineers build robots deigned to destroy each other.

Megabots, a startup launched in 2014, raised over half a million dollars to build its monster.