Two Giant Robots Enter a Steel Mill for a 3-Round Slugfest. Which One Leaves?
Back in 2015, American startup MegaBots Inc challenged Japanese company Suidobashi to a Giant Robot Duel–a knock-down dragout, totally-not-staged fight between the US and Japanese robot teams. On Tuesday night, the final fight went down. Here’s the breakdown, starting with Round 1:
Iron Glory (MK2) is fifteen feet tall, weighs six tons, has a 22-foot wingspan at full extension, a top speed of 2.5 miles per hour, a 24 horsepower engine, and is armed with a missile launcher and a six-inch cannon that fires 3-pound paintballs. Iron Glory is described as favoring a “Western” combat style, with an emphasis on distance and ranged weaponry.
The Japanese robot, in contrast, favors melee combat. Kuratas measures 13.5 feet high, weighs 6.5 tons, has a 20-foot wingspan, a maximum speed of 18 miles per hour, an 87 horsepower engine, an articulating hand, an 18mm submachine gun, and a 600-pound punching arm. Given the weight of the robot behind the arm, and the speed at which Kuratas can travel, any maximum velocity impact event could spell serious trouble for the American robot.
And, indeed, the first round isn’t even close. Kuratas makes a beeline for Iron Glory, laughs off a single shot from the latter’s paintball cannon–seriously, who thought a 3-pound paintball shell was going to hurt a 6.5-ton robot, unless fired at railgun velocities?–and knocks MegaBots first robot squarely on its ass. Later slo-mo analysis shows that the paintgun shell appears to have broken in the barrel, not that it would’ve made much difference. Given the fact that Kuratas was moving while Iron Glory wasn’t, IG was going down.
“This was a stunning defeat for Team Megabots,” the announcer, erm, announces. But with no one hurt, it’s all in good fun and the best robot won, right? Well, not exactly. Because Team MegaBots, plural, brought two robots to the fight. One was Iron Glory, and the other, Eagle Prime.
Eagle Prime is 16-feet tall, weighs in at 12 tons, has a 40-foot wingspan, a top speed of 10mph, and a 430 horsepower engine. Armaments include a four-foot chainsword, a logging grapple, and a double-barreled cannon that can fire far more paint-rounds per minute.
From this point, the fight actually gets interesting, so we’ll drop the video in here, time-coded to this segment. If you want to watch from the beginning, you can always rewind. We’ll discuss the final match’s results after this point, so don’t scroll much below the video if you want to avoid the discussion. If the video doesn’t pick up at the appropriate spot, look for timecode 13:18.
An Official Draw
Ultimately, Kuratas falls to Eagle Prime in Round 3 after Round 2 is declared a draw. That leaves the match an official tie–the Japanese team wins Round 1 with a one-shot TKO, the teams tie in Round 2, and Round 3 gives the US-based Megabots a victory.
We’d argue the Japanese team actually did a better job of building a single robot with a core set of strengths, compared with the Megabots’ team two-shot project. Iron Glory was utterly outclassed by Kuratas, while Eagle Prime needed two rounds to take out its Japanese rival. It’s hard not to think that Eagle Prime wasn’t specifically designed to counter Kuratas’ strengths. While there’s nothing specifically wrong with that, it’s also not entirely fair to give one team two robots, and the other team just one.
Granted, in an actual combat scenario, we’d bet on distance weapons over killer melee shots. But we’d also argue that in this specific instance, the Japanese did a better job of anticipating what the superior solution would be. Eagle Prime ultimately wins by being a stronger melee robot, as opposed to a kick-ass demonstration of a longer-distance artillery vehicle.
What does this prove about life, the universe, and our place in it? Not much. But the Honest Trailer from Pacific Rim explains a lot of my thoughts on the topic. Just replace one giant monster with a different giant robot.