Two years of waiting for the “world’s first” giant robot duel ended on Tuesday in a slow yet dramatic battle.
The American challengers MegaBots surprised viewers by showing up with not one, but two giant robots, Iron Glory and Eagle Prime, against the Japanese Suidobashi’s sole gladiator, Kuratas.
Both the American bots were piloted by two of the co-founders of MegaBots, Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, while at Kuratas’s wheel sat its designer and creator, Kogoro Kurata.
Watching the show, which was recorded in September at a Japanese steel mill about 60 miles north of Tokyo, were the robots’ respective engineering teams, ready to assist and repair, as well as MMA commentator Mike Goldberg, robotics expert Saura Naderi and Mari Takahashi, who added comments, insights and interviews as the battle unraveled in three rounds.
The first round lasted a few seconds—all that it took for the 13-foot-tall, 6.5-ton Kuratas to charge at the 15-foot-tall, 6-ton Iron Glory. Reaching a speed of 18 miles per hour, the Americans were no match for the Japanese robot, as it used its 600-pound robotic arm to swing a knockout punch to Iron Glory, which fell flat on its back.
A clear victory for Japan in the first round prompted MegaBots to take out the big guns. Enter Eagle Prime, possibly the most patriotic-looking fighter since Captain America. Red, white and blue, flashing a bald eagle head, the robot is an upgraded version of Iron Glory, weighing twice as much as its predecessor and towering over Kuratas at 16 feet tall.
Slightly slower than the Japanese opponent, at 10 miles per hour, Eagle Prime could boast 430 horsepower, almost five times that of Kuratas, forcing the Japanese team to think of a different strategy to attack the metallic mammoth.
A drone flew, shots were fired, punches dropped, but in the end, Round 2 was a draw, as the robots got stuck.
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For Round 3, Eagle Prime exchanged its cannon arm for a 4-foot-tall, 40-horsepower, stars-and-stripes chainsaw originally designed to cut through rock. That finally tipped the balance between the two giants. In a spectacular finish, Eagle Prime cornered Kuratas and was declared the winner.
Visibly satisfied, the MegaBots team members reiterated their desire to start a robot fighting league with rules and weight classes. They greeted Kurata as he descended the robot with cheers and applause. He appeared unfazed by his robot’s defeat: “That was totally awesome,” he said.
The 28-minute video of the fight was streamed on the MegaBots Twitch channel, receiving almost 1 million views. Below the video uploaded later on YouTube, opinions differed, ranging from enthusiastic comments to harsh criticism focusing how scripted the battle felt.
But the MegaBots team members knew from the start they could not please everyone. “If you go into this thinking it's going to be a Transformers movie, you're definitely going to be disappointed,” the team said answering questions on Reddit ahead of the battle.
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