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Giant American robot wants to lay the smackdown on Japanese rival

Mona Lalwani, @monalalwani
June 30, 2015
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Two giant robots with blazing guns is what apocalyptic nightmares and Michael Bay films are made of. While those autonomous machines continue to live in the fictional world, a breed of towering rideable robots is becoming a reality. One such machine is the MegaBot, a 15-foot tall bot large enough to seat two pilots. Unlike Hollywood's gun-wielding destructive machines, this one is armed with a paintball gun and is now ready to use it. But, of course, the Megabot needs someone its own size to pick on. So the aviator-wearing co-creators of this behemoth, draped in American flags, have thrown down the gauntlet and challenged the 12-foot tall Japanese KURATAS robot to a duel.

The MegaBot isn't designed to further medicine, assist the military or shoot aliens Ellen Ripley-style. It stands for something entirely different. "We're bringing video games and science fiction to life in the form of internally piloted giant fighting robots," Gui Cavalcanti, co-founder of MegoBots, Inc. told Engadget. "This is the kind of live entertainment we've all been promised for dozens of years, and it's the kind of entertainment that's finally possible with current robotics technology."

This vision was first introduced when the MegaBot made its Kickstarter debut late last year. The massive bot didn't meet its $1.8 million target. But the team went on to complete their prototype, the Mk.II, with the help of Autodesk this year. The KURATAS, on the other hand, has been around for almost three years. It's also been available on Amazon for $1 million since the beginning of the year. If team Japan accepts the challenge, the bots will be prepped and modified for the battle, which will take place a year from now.

The battle screams robot apocalypse. But, the implications of arming a robot aren't lost on the builders of the MegaBot. "Technically, yes, the weapons could be switched out for actual guns," says Cavalcanti. "But then you'd be left with a machine that's slower and less maneuverable than a tank, that's a larger target than a tank, that's weaker than a tank and that could fall over if it gets hit hard enough....These kinds of giant humanoid robots don't make any sense for actual warfare scenarios, but it turns out they're still awesome. And perfect for dueling in ludicrous fashion."

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