US vs. Japan: Giant robots are about to face off, fighting for their countries

U.S. robotics company MegaBots challenges Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industries to a robot face-off

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 October, 2017, 5:05pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 October, 2017, 5:08pm

By Saheli Roy Choudhury

The United States and Japan will put their reputations on the line on Tuesday, as they prepare for an expensive showdown in technological superiority. What’s the test? Giant battling robots.

Two years ago, U.S. robotics company MegaBots challenged its Japanese rival, Suidobashi Heavy Industries, to a duel between their giant robots. Suidobashi had accepted but added a condition of its own: melee combat must be a part of the fight.

To make sure its robot was up to the task for hand-to-hand combat, MegaBots started a Kickstarter to upgrade its Mk.II robot, which was built mostly for long-range paintball combat. It raised about US$554,600 in crowdfunding from nearly 8,000 backers.

In August the company officially introduced the robot that would take part in the fight.

The new robot, Eagle Prime, weighs in at 12 tonnes (24,000 pounds), is 16 feet tall and can seat two pilots. The machine is powered by a 430 horsepower V8 LS3 engine and costs US$2.5 million, according to the company.

It will battle one of Suidobashi’s Kurata robots that, according to PC Mag, weighs 6.5 tonnes and is about 13 feet tall. When responding to MegaBots’ initial challenge two years ago, Suidobashi CEO and founder, Kogoro Kurata had said his team couldn’t let another country win because giant robots were part of Japanese culture.

MegaBots co-founder, Brinkley Warren, told CNBC in 2015 that the fight could potentially pave the way for a fighting robot league and a billion-dollar sport.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to reporting.

Read the original article at CNBC