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October 10, 2016

MegaBots forced to scrap its ‘unsafe’ combat robot

by John_A

Building a robot that can do battle Pacific Rim-style is harder than it looks. The biggest problem? Keeping the pilot alive, apparently. MegaBots — the US half of a proposed mecha duel — is scrapping its Mk.II machine after deeming it completely “unsafe for hand-to-hand combat.” In “almost” every test, the team discovered that the human operator (buried inside, a little like Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion) would have been seriously injured or killed. That’s…not good. Now, the crew is working on the Mk.III — a new robot with a safer cockpit, improved controls and modular arms.

(The image up top is some early concept art. I like the cigar in particular.)

The improved model will be powered by a V8 engine, combined with hydraulic valves that are supposedly “the fastest responding in the world.” It’ll weigh 10 tons — a hefty increase on the 6 ton Mk.II — and scuttle around at a top speed of 10MPH. All of the parts should cost $750,000, while the complete build, including labor costs, will set the team back roughly $2.5 million. “The Mk.II was designed to be an inexpensive prototype,” MegaBots co-founder Matt Oehrlein said. “The Mk.III is designed from the ground up to be the best robot possible, with the best hydraulic, robotics, and pilot safety technology available on the market.”

MegaBots has spent years trying to realize its dream of robot-on-robot combat. Back in 2014, the company pitched a fighting tournament that would rely on “cannonball-sized, paint-filled projectiles.” The Kickstarter failed, but the company persisted and came back with a new pitch in 2015. Now, it wanted to take on the mighty Kuratas from Japan — and people were interested. The team raised $554,592 from 7,857 backers, making the dual (somewhat) of a reality. If and when they’ll actually fight is anyone’s guess — in the meantime, there’s always Robot Wars and Titanfall.

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