American and Japanese robotics companies Megabots and Suidobashi Heavy Industries have agreed to participate in a giant-robot battle one year from now.
US-based Megabots has created the MegaBot Mark II, while Japan's Suidobashi Heavy Industries has developed what it calls the Kuratas, named after CEO and company-founder Kogoro Kurata.
The friendly robot rivalry started after Megabots issued a challenge to Suido Heavy Industries.
In a tongue-in-cheek video uploaded to Youtube by Megabots co-founders Matt Oehrlein and Gui Cavalcanti, the two draped themselves in American flags while touting the capabilities of their dual-cockpit android, specifically its huge guns.
The two Americans, however, did acknowledge the capabilities of Suidobashi's robot, such as its advanced targeting system and the fact that it can be operated by just one person.
“Suidobashi, you have a giant robot, [and] we have a giant robot. You know what needs to happen. We challenge you to a duel… Prepare yourselves and name the battlefield. In one year, we fight,” said Megabots co-founder Oehrlein.
Suidobashi CEO Kogoro Kurata wasted little time in uploading his own video, in which he not only accepted the challenge but playfully pointed out that building a machine and sticking huge guns on it is “super American.”
Kurata said he would prefer to utilize hand-to-hand combat to devastate his American rivals, vowing not to let another country beat Japan in a giant robot battle, since giant robots are a part of Japanese culture.
Suidobashi's video ends with the words “Megabots, organize the duel. We'll be there.”
As Kurata mentioned, Japan has a long history with giant robots, which are commonly featured in various manga and anime.
Among the most famous of these is Ryosuke Takahashi's Armored Trooper VOTOMS, Yoshiyuki Tomino's Mobile Suit Gundam, and Shoji Kawamori's Super Dimensional Fortress Macross.
All three franchises continue to produce new material and have had a significant impact on Japanese society.
A life-sized Gundam statue was built in front of DiverCity Tokyo Plaza in 2012 and a special Macross exhibition was held at the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum in Kyoto, during the summer of 2013.
According to Kurata, his giant robot is designed after the mecha featured in VOTOMS.
As one might expect, people in Japan are excited about the prospect of a giant robot battle.
Commenting on the social network Matome Naver, a user named Roche322 says:
Japanese robot creator Suidobashi Heavy has been challenged to a giant robot battle by the Americans. Suidobashi Heavy has accepted the challenge, so we are going to see an epic battle, thanks to the giant American battle ‘bot built by Megabots team.
Some Japanese citizens outlined the capabilities of both the US and Japanese machines, implying the Kuratas won't have an easy time winning.
Another Matome Naver commenter, Cobblestone123, says:
MegaBot 2は重量5.4トンのガソリン駆動ロボット。二人乗り複座型で、重量1kgのペイント弾を160km/hで発射する能力を備えます (本人たちの申告による)。
MegaBot 2 is a gas-powered robot weighing in at 5.4 tonnes. It takes two people to operate it, and is armed with 1 kilogram paint gun bullets that can be fired at 160km/h, according to the Americans.
武器がBB弾に対し、「MegaBot Mark II」は1キロもあるペイント弾とのことなので、武器の換装をしないと火力では勝ち目がないかもしれないが、武器の発射精度や素早さでは、クラタスに勝敗がありそうである。
I heard that since the MegaBot Mark II has 1 kilogram paint ball bullets, if Kurata's team doesn't upgrade the firepower of their Japanese battle ‘bot, Suidobashi Heavy may not have enough power to win. However, if the Japanese battle ‘bot can fire quickly and accurately, Suidobashi Heavy may still beat the Americans.
Cobblestone123 couldn't help but feel inspired by the achievements made by both countries:
Giant robots are just a fundamental part of Japanese culture. So I'm going to try making a giant robot for hand to hand combat, too. I want to bring down my opponent with a devastating punch and win.
On Twitter, some are quite naturally comparing the real-life American and Japanese giant robots to those found in anime and manga:
ガンダムは軍事用な気が… 近日中の採用はないと思いますが。 “@mototchen: .@sakura_osamu 以下まとめました。 非軍事用巨大ロボットは日本のロマン – NAVER まとめ http://t.co/kxegdRqTwy”
— Kenichi Kubota (@kfsq) July 23, 2014
While Gundam are all about military affairs and service, but I don't think we're going to see actual robots used [to settle disbutes] anytime soon.
Some Japanese Internet users predict an American victory:
「我々はアメリカ人だから、巨大ロボにはでっかい銃（Really Big Gun）を搭載した」完璧すぎた。クラタスにはハラキリ機能を搭載しよう
— kurekure_kun (@kurekure_kun) July 2, 2015
“Since we're Americans, we added really big guns to our giant robot,” oh man that's too perfect. The Kuratas should install a harakiri (ritual suicide) function.
In response to Kurekure_kun's tweet, another Twitter user had this to say:
— sa (@sa_tsuklog) July 2, 2015
I want to see the Kuratas try and draw a sword to cut down the paint balls in one smooth motion.
One Twitter user was surprisingly philosophical:
— ヨウ化ヨウ素葉酸カリウム溶液P (@Magus_leader) July 2, 2015
Since there are eight million kami (gods, deities) in Japan, it's tough not to believe that “all things correspond with the intentions and personalities of those who made them.” That's likely why the Kuratas is anthropomorphic and its form resembles a person. Maybe that's why there's such a big difference between the design of the Kuratas and the MegaBots?
As Oehrlein states in Megabot's challenge video, both robots will need to undergo modifications, in order to be combat-ready by next year.
The impressive technology and friendly rivalry between the two companies will make this an interesting story to follow over the coming months, until the two robots duke it out sometime in 2016.