By now, you've probably heard that there's a giant robot fight coming in the near future: a US team has challenged a Japanese team to a brawl, and the challenge was accepted on the condition that it includes hand-to-hand fighting. Clearly America isn't going to back down because of this requirement, but that means Megabots Inc. needs to upgrade its Mk.II bot — and they're turning to the crowd for help.
Three words: giant robot fight. Picture BattleBots (it's back!) but way, way bigger and with the drivers inside the robots. Do you need more than that? Well, the specifics are pretty cool: Mk.II is already a formidable robot, but designed mostly to look awesome and deliver long-range attacks. The team has an overall $1.5-million plan to do a significant overhaul and get the Mk.II ready to take on the Japanese bot — and they're seeking the first $500,000 on Kickstarter. That'll cover new armor, melee weapons, a higher top speed, and the necessary hydraulics and power systems to keep all that operational. If they can break through the target and hit some stretch goals, things start to get even more interesting: at $750k they'll begin designing and testing modular weapons to find the best armament; at $1-million they'll begin working with the winners of a DARPA challenge to give the currently-top-heavy Mk.II advanced balancing capabilities (like the videos of self-balancing DARPA robots that get creepier every day); at $1.25-milion they'll bring in NASA safety experts to make sure the driver is completely protected (should this maybe be... higher priority?); and at $1.5-million they'll apply the icing to the cake in the form of a Hollywood-grade paint job.
Even if you don't care who wins this fight, you probably want to see it happen.
...And if you do care who wins this fight (and are rooting for the US) then you should probably back this project, because at the moment there's plenty of reason to believe that the Mk.II might have bitten off more than it can chew. Its opponent — the Kuratas by Suidobashi Heavy Industry — is an extremely impressive machine. The Mk.II might be a bit heavier-duty, but the Kuratas is far more maneuverable and features some pretty advanced targeting and piloting systems. It's pretty clear why the Japanese team wanted a hand-to-hand combat component: the Kuratas hasn't been seen sporting any particularly heavy firepower (while the US bot, unsurprisingly, has) but it's not hard to picture it taking out the Mk.II up close by trumping it on manoeuvrability and balance — because, like so many robot competitions over the years, there's a good chance this one will end somewhat-disappointingly with one of the bots unceremoniously falling over. $1.5-million worth of upgrades will go a long way towards ensuring this is a fair and intense fight.
Of course, as much fun as it will be to see these robots in action, the real dream for many will be to drive one — and that's absolutely a possibility. Starting at $1000, all the tiers offer the chance to pilot the Mk.II — with higher prices bringing in the chance to try out its guns and fists. At the top tier of $10,000, you get to join the pit crew and get the inside view of the entire match including watching on-site assembly of the bot — and since all five spots were snatched up far more quickly than expected, the team has added another round of five, and three of those have already been claimed.