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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Japan Accepts U.S. Robot Battle Challenge

Japan tells the U.S. "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto" as it slaps the Yankee robot across the face with a white glove, accepting their robot duel challenge.

Yes, its robot fighting. Giant robot fighting. Actually, it's mecha robot fighting, if we want to be precise.

Not those whacky little remote-controlled speedy buggers we saw 10 years ago on TV that would hammer opponents with a a sledge hammer or slice into the other with a buzz saw… no… we're talking about multi-ton mecha robots that look like something out of the anime and manga of Japan.

Mecha is a robot or machine controlled by people IN the machine or robot.

Actually… despite everyone bandying about the term robot, these aren't robots in the true sense. They are mecha featuring robotic technology and design. They are basically mechanical exoskeletons - does anyone recall Ripley (believe it or not) battling the Alien Queen in Aliens (Alien II) - except that you actually control the mecha from within by manipulating controls… like driving an excavator.
Exo-Skeleton (left) and Alien queen with exo-skeleton body getting ready to rumble in Aliens.
The American robot design company Megabots Inc., in the spirit of friendly competition, wants to battle its own MegaBot Mark II against the best Japan has to offer, and that, right now, is the Kuratas mecha designed and built by Suidobashi Heavy Industries. 

Although the Americans have suggested a duel featuring paintball guns/cannon, the Japanese are up for a real rock'em-sock'em pummeling-style battle.

“Suidobashi wants to fight with steel — not paintballs," says Suidobashi founder and chief executive officer Kurata Kogoro (surname first).

Now… I've been hit by paintballs during some epic adventures in the real outdoor Canadian forest - and while they don't hurt much except to one's pride, the guns the Chinese and Japanese youths bring in to these battles that are amped up in air-pressure velocity certainly do pack a bit of a sting. Buggers.

However… I don't see how that's going to do any damage to a four-ton robot like what the Japanese have - regardless of the canon's size.  

Both of these mecha purport to stand 15-feet tall, with the operation handled by one pilot for the Kuratas, and up to two for the MegaBot Mark II

MegaBot Mark II Stats:
  • Height: 15-feet (4.57 meters);
  • Weight: 12,000 lbs (5443.1 kg) ;
  • Movement: Caterpillar treads (2);
  • Cabin: Enclosed steel, but currently in a mesh format;
  • Humans: one pilot and one gunner;
  • Armament: high-powered paintball cannons fire oversized paintballs 120 mph (193.1 kph);
  • Control: I'm guessing levers, buttons and pedals - akin to a car. 
The 15-foot tall Megabot, with co-creators Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein. Image from Megabots Inc.

Kuratas Stats:
  • Height: 13-feet (3.96 meters) - Japanese are shorter than the Americans, after all;
  • Weight: 9,000 lbs (4,082.3 kg);
  • Movement: One wheel each on four wide legs that raise robot up and down. It's quick; 
  • Cabin: Enclosed roll cage with plexiglass covering providing better pilot protection;
  • Humans: One;
  • Armament: Two Gatling BB cannons, fire 6,000 BB pellets per minute; one water cannon (weak) that fires water-propelled missiles;
  • Control: Augmented reality display in cockpit; automated target acquisition; weapon tracking interface to ensure it continues to hit its target. Locked on is locked on.    
Kuratas circa 2012... I'm sure he's much more advanced now!

"Yeah, I'll fight. Absolutely," says Kurata. "We can't let another country win this. Giant robots are Japanese culture."

If nothing else, I love that Kurata-san proudly states that giant robots ARE Japanese culture.

Kurata knows what he is talking about, he built his robots after being inspired by the anime and manga produced by Japan, especially the mecha in the series Armored Trooper VOTOMS

I've written about Kuratas robots previously in December of 2012 - see HERE. Some good video in there, too.
 Kurata says: "When I was a kid, I thought there were going to be giant robots in the future. But no matter how long I waited, people were only able to make small robots, like Asimo. Eventually, I thought ‘I can’t wait anymore,’ and set out to make one myself."

Superimposed image of MegaBot Mark II (left) at the Kuratas facility in Japan.

Japan's Kurata isn't impressed with the American robo-effort: "Come on guys, make it cooler. Just building something huge and sticking guns on it. It's ... Super American."

You can take that, America, as a super insult.

The American entry looks like a pretty solid tank  - complete with caterpillar tracks… and despite being slow, it looks reasonably stable. I would hope they gave the head and shoulders (and thus weapons) the ability to swivel 360-degrees... and if they haven't, they should.

The Japanese Kuratas entry is faster, lighter, perhaps more in tune with what its driver is doing… but can it take a swipe from the big bag American MegaBot Mark II?

As of this point in time, no dates or venue have been set for this beginning of the end of the human race as we know it, though the original MegaBot challenge suggested a date a year from now… sometime.

Water cannons, BB pellets, paintball guns and cannons… these things are really heavy mecha… nothing is getting destroyed.

But… just in case…

Somewhere hiding under my Skynet - you know what I mean,
Andrew (We love our robot masters) Joseph

1 comment:

  1. Japan's got my vote! haha! They're perfecting it and time will come it will be perfected.