June 2016: America and Japan to face off in giant robot combat
"You have a giant robot, we have a giant robot – we have a duty to the science fiction lovers of this world to fight them to the death." America laid down the challenge; Japan has accepted. In one year's time, the two countries will face off on neutral soil for the world's first international giant robot dual. Two 15-foot-tall steel gundam suits with one or two pilots inside, facing each other in battle. There will be guns, there will be giant swinging steel fists, and the fight won't be over until one has pounded the other into scrap. Can you hear that sound? It's the gentle foaming of a million anime fans.
If the full-contact high-tech weapons fighting of Unified Weapons Master isn't enough for you, giant robot battles might tickle your fancy.
America's Megabots threw down the challenge to Japan's Suidobashi a few days ago in this fun video:
And Suidobashi responded almost immediately, raising the stakes to include melee combat:
So what do the two competitors look like at this stage? Well, the Megabot is 15 feet tall and 12,000 pounds, and Suidobashi's Kuratas is around 13 feet and 9,000 pounds. The Megabot moves around on a pair of tank-style tracks, where the Kuratas is faster and lighter, and gets around on a set of 4 wheels, on wide extending legs that can raise the robot up to get around quickly.
The Megabot requires two pilots, one driver and one gunner to operate its huge arm-mounted paintball cannons, which fire oversized paintballs at over 120 miles per hour, enough to dent car panels.
The Kuratas takes just one pilot, who is treated to a vastly more high-tech augmented reality heads-up display in the cockpit, including an automated target acquisition and tracking interface that keeps its guns trained on an opponent. The guns in this case include twin Gatling BB cannons that can fire 6,000 BB pellets per minute, and a fairly flaccid-looking water cannon thingy that sends floppy missiles out in more or less random directions. As Suidobashi points out in this adorable promo video, "from time to time, it will hit its target."
It's fair to say neither robot is currently ready for combat. It's hard to see how the Megabot's paintball cannons will trouble the Kuratas pilot in his fully enclosed cabin, and I doubt the Kuratas's BB pellets or water missiles will even annoy the Megabot team. And both machines look so slow at this point that it's hard to see how their slow punches will do any damage at all.
But each team will have 12 months to prepare, and work out a set of rules of engagement that will include weapons fighting as well as hand to hand melee combat. Everyone knows what's at stake: Sci-fi fans won't be expecting a Real Steel-like clash of the titans in the very first giant robot fight, but they won't be impressed if it's not a spectacle. The future of this sport rests upon the ability of Megabots and Suidobashi to make these things exciting to watch.
June 2016. Bring it on! Enjoy our gallery of Megabots and Kuratas photos!