Remember that iconic scene in Rocky, where everyone’s favorite Italian Stallion prepares for his big title fight by punching meat? Well, substitute “Italian Stallion” for “giant mech” and “meat” for Prius, and you described the training methods being used by Californian robotics company Megabots’ Mark III robot, ahead of its summer battle with Japanese rival Suidobashi.
“There are two explanations for the car,” Gui Cavalcanti, CEO and co-founder of Megabots told Digital Trends. “First off, we wanted to show off the size and weight of our new combat robot by using something appropriate as a punching bag, and a car was just the right size. Cars dent and show damage nicely, and everyone knows how big a car is. Secondly, a large part of the Mark III was funded through a Kickstarter campaign — in which one of the higher backer levels was getting to strap into the robot to punch a Prius! So all of our backers got to do that at Maker Faire.”
For those unfamiliar with it, Megabots’ Mark III tips the scales at 12 tons, measures 16 feet tall, and boasts $800,000 worth of off-the-shelves and custom parts. The long-awaited robot duel between it and its Japanese opponent is set to take place sometime in August. Until then, however, there is still plenty of work to be done to get it battle-ready, Cavalcanti said.
“The next big step for us is going to be increasing the speed of the robot from 25 percent throttle to 100 percent throttle,” he continued. “We didn’t have time to tune the robot to top speed, and we were worried about the safety of the audience and the robot during these early punches in the robot’s lifecycle, so we tuned it down. Now it’s time to get it up to combat speed!”
There is no word on exactly how many more environmentally friendly cars will have to suffer as Megabots’ engineers work to achieve that.