Oakland company seeks help building giant battle robot

A proposed battle between giant robots from the U.S. and Japan will showcase the fighting prowess of a locally made machine, but the Oakland-based company building the robot still needs a little help to get battle ready.

It promises to be the world's first giant-robot duel, if the vision of Megabots co-founders Gui Cavalcanti comes true.

The Oakland-based company has built the Mark II, a giant fighting robot that is 15 feet tall and weighs 12,000 pounds and has its sights set on taking on the only other giant fighting robot in existence, Japan’s Kuratas.

KTVU sat down with Cavalcanti to get the inside scoop on the battle.

"The point is basically making all the video games and science-fiction movies featuring giant robots come to life," explained Calvacanti. "We've been promised this future of giant fighting robots for the past 50 years and we've seen them in movies. Now it's time for the real deal."

Japan has actually had a giant robot for about four years, so Calvacanti says he knows Megabots are playing a bit of catch up. However, he says the Mark II is very American.

"This robot is going designed for long-range combat, so it has these giant paint cannonballs it fires speeds of 100 to 150 miles an hour. So you see a missile launcher and a cannon. Basically we built it for the American style of video games where the purpose of giant robots is giant guns that shoot each other and parts blow off," said Calvacanti with a laugh.

The dream starts with one fight. That's why Megabots issued a video challenge to Japan for a duel one year from now.

"The dream is stadiums full of 50,000 or 100,000 people with giant robots stomping around and beating the crap out of each other," enthused Calvacanti. "Things falling off; basically video games that you can watch live."

The Japanese company that made Kuratas Suidobashi accepted via YouTube video and mocked the Mark 2 saying it was, in fact "super American" with its heavy artillery.

The makers also accepted with one condition that the robots get to take on each other in hand-to-hand combat. Japan's robot is older, but the Mark II is bigger and heavier.

Still, the Megabots founders say they have some fundraising and some tweaking to do, and admit they need help. So they've started a Kickstarter campaign.

"The base level that we need is $500,000," said Calvacanti. "That's the scale we are talking about. That will get us full armor, full weapons for the duel and that makes us two times faster than Kuratas is now. That gets us the basic upgrade. "

$1.5 million will get them a Hollywood-grade paint job and dynamic balancing technology from IHMC Robotics.

The Megabots team includes folks assembled from NASA, Mythbusters and Battlebots.

"It's got to be neutral ground and it's got to be epic!" said Calvacanti. 

For more information on the Megabots quest for giant battling robot dominance, go to the company's website.