On Tuesday, October 17th, two giant robots squared off for the first time in history. Representing Japan was Kuratas designed and built by Suidobashi Heavy Industry, lead by artist and blacksmith, Kogoro Kurata, and roboticist, Wataru Yoshizaki. Representing America was Eagle One designed and built by MegaBots Inc., lead by Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein. The giant robot duel was orchestrated by actual humans, piloting from inside the mechs. It’s something out of Hollywood – giant robots squaring off from separate corners of the world. So what’s the problem, right?
It was streamed a week after the fact, which made it feel more than a little scripted. It was also slow. Really slow. Slower than something that was edited for a week should feel. For a historic event it felt like a let down to many. It was split into two fights: the Kuratas squared off against the Mark II and the Mark III (Eagle One) from MegaBots. The first was over in a matter of seconds – the Kuratas slammed into the Mark II with its modified steel club of a left fist (called the “Pilebunker”), knocking the Mark II onto its back. Cavalcanti and Oehrlein were both inside the Mark II and climbed out, stunned but ready for another fight. The second fight was mainly fought with paintballs and a drone distraction before both mechs were interlocked and immobile. The second round of the second fight saw the Eagle One reequipped with a chainsaw that ripped into the Kuratas’ arm until they conceded the fight.
One four-second knockout and a tap out. Not very exciting when the fans were expecting something out of Hollywood. Where’s the giant sword? The chest cannon? The five minute transformation into a giant rhino or something?
As much of a let down as last night might be considered by some, it was still a historic night. It’s like watching the first ever car race and being disappointed it wasn’t anything like Fast and the Furious. Last night was the first mechanized step towards the giant swords and chest cannons. The guys over at MegaBots, Inc. are already planning on expanding the giant robot duel industry. This past year, they’ve been to events like Tech Crunch Disrupt to launch an international robot fighting league. Rumors of a Korean giant robot under development have already begun circulated the internet, and a China giant robot design team has already issued their own challenge against MegaBots.
The excitement of last night is less from the punches thrown and more that the punches were even thrown in the first place. Just a few years ago, giant robots were just something of science-fiction. In just a few years, imagine a worldwide event on the scale of the Olympics with teams from all over coming together to show off their technological prowess in the field of battle. That’s what last night represented for me, and that’s why I look forward to rewatching those fights with glee.