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MegaBots team scraps Kickstarter-backed Mk.II robot, now building Mk.III

A little over a year ago, nearly 8,000 extremely patriotic robot enthusiasts pledged nearly $555,000 to help American MegaBots and its Mk.II robot defeat Japan’s Kuratas robot in their upcoming duel. It’s a duel that promises to feature all the guts, glory, and glamour of hand-to-hand combat that can be expected from two enormous machines, but unfortunately it’s a duel that may have to wait, as the American team is having a bit of trouble building its robot.

One problem may be that the team didn’t quite reach its $1.5 million funding goal, but another problem is that its Mk.II machine has now been deemed “unsafe for hand-to-hand combat.” In fact, in “almost” every test, the MegaBots team found that the human operator of the giant robot would have … not walked away from the duel. Or gotten seriously injured in the process.

So now, the team is working on the Mk.III, which it claims will feature “a safer cockpit, improved controls, and modular arms.”

Powering the newest iteration of the giant robot will be a V8 engine, along with hydraulic valves that the team claims will be “the fastest responding in the world.” It’ll weigh considerably more than the Mk.II at 10 tons (the former weighed just 6 tons), and will hit a top speed of 10 miles per hour. In total, the cost is expected to ring in at around $2.5 million — so the team may need to take to Kickstarter again.

This is especially true because Japan insisted on hand-to-hand combat when it accepted the American’s challenge of a duel, so the MegaBots team certainly has its work cut out. But all the same, it has high hopes for the MK.III.

“The Mk.II was designed to be an inexpensive prototype,” MegaBots co-founder Matt Oehrlein said. “The Mk.III is designed from the ground up to be the best robot possible, with the best hydraulic, robotics, and pilot safety technology available on the market.”

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If MegaBots does attempt to crowdfund again, you may be able to get your hands on some pretty sweet rewards. Last time, MegaBots’ “thank you’s” ranged from your name on their website, all the way up to being a part of the pit crew. So keep your fingers crossed, fellow Americans. The duel of the century is still forthcoming.

Article originally published in July 2015. Updated on 10-10-2016 by Lulu Chang: Added news that the original Mk.II has been scrapped, and MegaBots is now working on a new robot, the Mk.III.