America's giant robot needs funding to fight Japanese rival

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Steve Dent
August 18, 2015 3:24 PM
America's giant robot needs funding to fight Japanese rival

It turns out that giant robot duels are really expensive, as America's MegaBots team has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $500,000 in its fight against Japan's Kuratas. It was MegaBots group (aka Team USA) that demanded the battle in the first place, and Japan gladly accepted on one condition -- the fight must be "melee" hand-to-hand combat. However, that constraint has upped the costs for Team USA. To accommodate melee instead of robot paintball, they need to give their robot more speed and add heavy armor plating, more firepower, better hydraulics and a new power unit.

The cost of that comes out to a Michael Bay-worthy $500,000, but the MegaBots team is hoping for more. When the Kuratas group accepted the challenge, they said "come on guys, make it cooler. Just building something huge and sticking guns on it is... super American." Ideally, Team USA wants to raise as much as $1.5 million to get new weapons systems, dynamic balancing, life safety systems ("safety, 4th, folks," they said) and a Hollywood paint-job makeover. If the funds come through, the team will work with NASA and DARPA Robotics Challenge runner-up ICMC Robotics on those systems.

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As of this morning, the group has raised nearly $50,000 toward the $500,000 goal, so the campaign is off to a promising start. You can chip in as little as $5 to get a shout out on MegaBots' website, or up to $5,000 to pilot MegaBot yourself and even punch a car. The top $10,000 tier will get you into the pit crew, where you can watch the assembly, testing and Kuratas battle in person. There's still no word on the exact time, date, location or how folks will be able to watch it (pay-per-view?). Both teams, however, want their 'bots to end up damaged or destroyed -- and given that they weigh a combined 27,000 pounds and stand 27 feet tall, we're not planning on missing that fight.

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America's giant robot needs funding to fight Japanese rival