For years, nerds of all stripes have dreamed of piloting giant mech robots. Movies like Real Steel and Pacific Rim put this vision on the big screen, and countless video games have been created along the same theme. Now a company called MegaBots is making the dream a reality.
MegaBots was founded in 2014 and built a 12,000 pound beast of a bot called the MkII. The bot, which looks like the lovechild of a backhoe and a tank, is piloted by two people and is equipped with cannons that can fire 3 pound paintballs at speeds in excess of 100 mph.
Back in June 2015, the folks at MegaBots challenged Japan-based Suidobashi Heavy Industries to a duel of nerdtastic proportions.
Very quickly, their Japanese rivals accepted the challenge. Suidobashi Heavy Industries was founded prior to MegaBots, and had already built their own massive bot, which they called “Kuratas”. At first glance, the Japanese bot seems to be significantly more advanced than the MkII, equipped with an advanced targeting system and a slick looking HUD.
MegaBots is currently organizing the duel, which will be held sometime in the coming year – but that’s not the really big news. While a Japan vs. America duel of the mech bots is pretty cool, MegaBots has a much bigger goal in mind: they want to create the first ever giant robot fighting league, on par with Nascar or the NBA or WWE. Now they have an extra $2.4 million in funding to make it happen. When asked why he backed MegaBots, Azure Capital Partners General Partner Michael Kwatinetz said, “There is a giant opportunity for live events that stimulate people’s interest. That much is obvious from examples like the WWE or Nascar.”
According to their website:
MegaBots, Inc., uses cutting-edge robotics technology to create the giant piloted fighting robots of science fiction, videogames and movies. These robots fight in epic-scale arena combat the likes of which the world has never seen before.
MegaBots are 15-foot-tall, internally piloted humanoid robots that fire cannonball-sized paintballs at each other at speeds of over 120 miles per hour. As the robots battle, armor panels sheer off and litter the field, smoke and sparks pour out of the chassis, massive robotic limbs tear off, and robots crumple to the ground until only one is left standing.
Kwatinetz might be on to something – that’s pretty epic stuff.
Up to this point, MegaBots has sustained their business through raising $550,000 on Kickstarter (they “crowdfunded the first ever giant mech battle”), selling merchandise and sponsorships, and appearing at live events. But, as you can imagine, building enormous robots isn’t cheap, and transporting those robots is quite the logistical challenge. Creating a functioning league will require significantly more funds, hence the recent round of seed.
MegaBots will use the funding to work with the law firm Latham Watkins to help them roll out the league. Latham Watkins partner Christopher D. Brearton has worked with governing bodies in the NBA, MLB, and the NFL, thus bringing the experience needed for execution. Not that he’s ever had experience commercializing mammoth robot entertainment, but he’s dealt with some pretty big dudes, so you know, he’s got that going for him.
Who wouldn’t want to see a real life version of Real Steel (it has no choice but to be better than the movie itself)?? I can’t help but think that an actual league is quite a ways away. Regardless, it will be fascinating to see, first, how the duel with the Japanese unfolds, and then how MegaBots uses the publicity to actually construct an organized competitive system.
It’s a glorious time for nerds to be alive.
Stephen Altrogge is a freelance writer based in Tallahassee, Florida. He writes about tech, marketing, faith, and lots of other things. He’s married to Jen and has three young girls. Every day he consumes more coffee than the entire population of Colombia. He knows more about Star Wars than any respectable man should, and he runs more than any sane man would. He once attempted to eat a 2 pound hamburger in under an hour. He failed.
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