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Giant Robot Vs. Wrecking Ball: A Fight Where Everyone Wins

Any good fighter prepares for battle in the squared circle by training against real opponents, but when you are building America’s first functioning mega mech to tangle in an international duel of giant robots, sparring partners can be tough to find. How can you get your six-ton, 15-foot metal combatant ready to take a punch—and make sure you, the pilot, can survive inside of it—when there is no one out there to practice against?

By swinging a big ol’ wrecking ball at it, that’s how.

That’s what the folks at MegaBots did to test whether or not their $200,000 giant mech Mk.II robot will be able to withstand a punch from Japan‘s Suidobashi Heavy Industry’ Kuratas robot when the two machines face off in a couple of months.

Though Kuratas will be moving at a different speed and has a much different weight, the combined forces are similar enough to make the wrecking ball a reliable stand-in for the machine’s best possible punch. The good news for the MegaBots team is that not only did the robot hold up, refusing to go down like a fighter with a great chin, their test dummy inside also would have survived the punch. Which is good, since they’d like their own pilot to live through the real match. What good is a robot fight victory with a human being loss?

Their robot held up so well, in fact, that they couldn’t get the wrecking ball to tip it over no matter how hard they swung it, requiring them to flip it over themselves with a forklift. It might seem strange that you intentionally want to destroy a machine that costs $200,000 to build, but it’s much more important to test the safety of its fall for its human driver. There is a real chance it could end up on its back during battle, and the fall alone could result in serious damage for the pilot, though it didn’t seem that bad here (most of those injuries to the mannequin were suffered before the fall).

It was their first test that actually proved to be the much more deadly one, when they fired their own robot’s gun at its pilot canopy. The custom-made paintball cannon balls not only tore right through the cockpit, they tore up the dummy. If nothing else, the canopy will most likely need to be made from much stronger material, with a protective covering far exceeding the (lack of) strength of the mesh screens they are using now.

The American team has a lot riding on this, since they were the ones that challenged Kuratas to this match, which the Japanese build team accepted with a challenge of their own. They called for the MegaBots squad to do a better job building their paintball firing mech. “Just building something huge and sticking guns on it. It’s….Super American.” Yeah, in case you didn’t care enough about watching a U.S/Japan Matrix Revolutions/Pacific Rim Jaeger robot fight already.

MegaBots went on to raise so much money for this fight on KickStarter. No one messes with us when it comes to something that never really existed before! Nobody! Because if Kuratas thinks it’s going to come in like a wrecking ball we will not just walk away, they will not break us, they will not wreck us.

…Unless they do, cause, uh, Kuratas is kinda crazy amazing. And really, when giant robots fight, there are no losers.

What improvements do you think the MegaBots team can make to their mech? Tell us your best ideas to build a better giant robot in the comments below.

Images: MegaBots Inc

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