Fight on: National pride at stake as giant robots prepare for combat

Posted at 9:56 PM, Aug 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-21 22:00:58-04

America’s first giant combat robot needs your help.

In late June, the U.S.-based robotics company MegaBots challenged Suidobashi Heavy Industry, a Japanese company, to pit their robots in battle against each other.

Suidobashi responded with the one-upsmanship fitting such a surreal challenge: Let’s fight hand to hand.

Now the U.S. team has launched a Kickstarter campaign to upgrade their current robot, so that it can evolve from firing paintballs (as it does now) to throwing punches.

A video posted to Kickstarter on Tuesday explains the updated version of MegaBots’ Mk.II has to upgrade its propulsion system so it can move faster, needs better armor to fend off opposing attacks and, of course, could use a Hollywood-esque paint job worthy of such an audacious project.

The team announced partnerships with Grant Imahara (best known from his time on the Discovery show “Mythbusters”), the creators of Battlebots, the CEO of Autodesk, heads of robotics and defense companies and an expert from NASA who worked on robotics systems currently on Mars.

Beyond the armor and new look, funds raised will as importantly be used to ensure safety for the occupant inside the robot, create and test weapons, and improve the contraption’s balance and stability.

Backers donating $1,000 will get to ride in the ride around in the robot and settle into its gunner’s seat; those who fork over $5,000 will get to take the reins and control the robotic arms as they smack dangling cars like punching bags.

The company gave itself 30 days to reach its $500,000 goal. At its current pace, it looks like it will achieve that aim in no time — with more than $138,000 in donations just a few hours into the campaign. Click here to donate.