Japan vs. USA Robot Challenge

Japan vs. USA Robot Challenge

Part of a series on Mecha. [View Related Entries]

Updated Jan 21, 2018 at 04:09PM EST by Brad.

Added Jul 11, 2015 at 01:41PM EDT by Ari Spool.

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Japan vs. USA Robot Challenge refers to an upcoming international robot combat match between Mark III and Kuratas, pilot-operated mechas designed and manufactured by American robotmaker Megabot Inc. and Japanese robotic company Suidobashi Heavy Industry, respectively. Announced in June 2015, the event is scheduled to take place in September 2017.


Unveiling of Kuratas

In 2012, Kuratas Suidobashi unveiled the first Kuratas robot, billed as "The World's First Boarding Robot." The robot was big enough for a man to sit inside and operate it from within, just as in the traditional mecha format. It was operated off of the XBox Kinect user interface, and while it couldn't walk, it could drive on three wheels at about ten kilometers per hour. It could be armed with a series of cannons made for shooting fireworks or water bottles, and retailed for US $1,353,500.[1][5]

Kickstarter Campaign

In 2014, the company Megabots, Inc, created a Kickstarter campaign to raise $1.8 million dollars to fund them to create their own mecha design. While they had only a prototype turret developed, they claimed that their goal was to create two robots that would then battle in an arena they were designing, and that their overall intent was to someday form a sporting league for mecha battle.[2]

They did not reach their funding goal via Kickstarter, eventually only earning $65,000 of the $1.8 million needed. In an update for their backers, the Megabots staff wrote that they believed their failure was due to trying to fund too early, before they had a fully completed working prototype of the first walking robot. However, they did show a prototype, which used caterpillar track-type tread to move around, during the campaign.[3]

Notable Developments

Megabots' Challenge

On June 30th, 2015, Megabots USA released a video challenge to Suidobashi, saying that "we have a giant robot, and you have a giant robot," and that it was time for them to fight.[4]

Kuratas' Response

Kuratas released a video in response on July 5th, 2015, accepting the challenge, but saying that the guns were "so American." They challenged Megabots to come with something a little "cooler" for their final competing robot.

Online Reaction

Between June and July, both Kuratas Suidobashi and Megabots garnered substantial followings on social media sites, while demonstration videos of the robots from both companies drew hundreds of thousands of views. Within two weeks of Megabots' challenge video release, it accrued more than 4.7 million views, while Kuratas response video racked up over 3.5 million views in the same time period.

Official Announcement

On April 5th, 2017, Megabots released a video confirming that the giant robot battle would take place in August of that year in an undisclosed location. The video also contained footage of their nearly-completed robot crushing cars and washing machines. The video has gained over 72,000 views in a day.

Monkey King Battle Announcement

On April 29th, 2017, Chinese firm GREATMETAL revealed that they had challenged Megabots to a duel with their new robot 'Monkey King'. That same day, Megabots posted a video on their YouTube channel showcasing the Monkey King(shown below). The Duel has been set to take place after the fight with Kuratas.[11]

Eagle Prime Unveiled

On August 2nd, 2017, the MegaBots Inc. channel uploaded footage of their Eagle Prime MK3-class MegaBot, set to battle against a Suidobashi Heavy Industry robot later in September (shown below).

That day, the video was submitted to /r/robotics,[12] where the top comment submitted by Redditor En-tro-py criticized the robot's design, referring to it as a "junker mech" with "high school level design" and "too much PR money." Meanwhile, several news sites published articles about the recently unveiled robot, including Engadget,[13] Quartz[14] and The Daily Mail.[15]

October 2017 Giant Robot Duel

On October 17th, 2017, the MegaBots Inc YouTube channel uploaded a 26-minute special featuring a duel between the robots Iron Glory (MK2) and Kuratas, followed by a duel between the Eagle Prime and Kuratus (shown below). In the first duel, Kuratus quickly downed the Iron Glory (MK2) by ramming it with its giant fist. In the second battle, the Kuratus launched a drone at the Eagle Prime, which was immediately hit out of the air. After engaging in close combat, the Eagle Prime was able to defeat the Kuratus with its chainsaw arm. That day the video reached the #3 spot on YouTube trending.

That day, the video was submitted to /r/CringeAnarchy,[16] where it was referred to as a "cringe fest." Meanwhile, The Verge published an article about the fight, which described it as "less Pacific Rim, and more Rock ‘em Sock ‘em robots." Meanwhile, posts about the MegaBots victory reached the frontpage of the /r/technology[18] and /r/murica[17] subreddits.

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