Giant Robots Fighting Each Other May Be A Reality Soon

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Giant Robots Fighting Each Other May Be A Reality Soon

Dreams of giant robots inspired by Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam, Pacific Rim, and Titanfall could become a reality if the MegaBots Kickstarter reaches its funding goal.

It's only in movies, video games, and TV shows where we see pilots in giant robots shooting other robots down, knocking pieces off of each other. If a Kickstarter campaign proves successful, we'll see it in reality, too. A group of scientists specializing in robotics and hydraulics are in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign for MegaBots: giant fighting robots.

MegaBots is less Neon Genesis Evangelion (although Evangelion does take place in 2015!) and more G Gundam where this project involves a fighting arena, pitting robots against each other for spectators' enjoyment. The MegaBots team plans to build two robots to duel in a 1-on-1 tournament scheduled for May 2016 in the U.S.

The MegaBots are 15 feet tall and weight 15,000 pounds, equipped with pneumatic cannons. Two people pilot one MegaBot as a driver and gunner team. Over four months, the MegaBots developers completed a prototype of the upper body and weapon systems.

"Making MegaBots a reality is absolutely possible," Matt Oehrlein, the roboticist responsible for the electronics of MegaBots, said. "The technology is here. These robots run on the same type of technology that powers giant construction equipment, so things like bulldozers and excavators. The difference here is that we have advanced control algorithms that let these things balance on two feet and remain upright and fight in combat."

That balance is thanks to Andreas Hofmann, a humanoid controls engineer. Drawing from his Ph.D. thesis, "Robust Execution of Bipedal Walking Tasks From Biomechanical Principles," engineers have run simulations scaled up for the MegaBots exploring how the MegaBots will walk.

MegaBots founders Oehrlein, Andrew Stroup, and Gui Cavalcanti hope to see their dream of a robo-league come to life. The team plans to rent a stadium and build two robots - additional robots if the project funding meets stretch goals - to fight. The robots fire paint-filled projectiles at 120 miles per hour, shattering armor plates. When a robot takes enough damage, its joints will seize and weapons will jam. MegaBots said pilots are safe and follow the same safety standards NASCAR uses.

MegaBots' Kickstarter campaign ends on Nov. 28. The team is asking for $1.8 million.

Source: MegaBots (Kickstarter)

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It's Robot Wards on crack! I'd totally watch this if it became a reality.

It's...it's finally happening...

I promised myself I wouldn't cry, but this is just too beautiful.

Yeah, I'm not convince by it but I suppose all creation do start from huumble beginning.

Realistically speaking, do any of you believe that they have any chance of getting enough money to kick-start this?

Bipedal locomotion is very hard to imitate. Other projects by bigger boys sofar have resulted in very limited and clumsy robots.

They shouldn't have wasted time building the paint guns, the cage and the arm first, but instead make a prototype walker first. That's the hurdle they are the least likely to overcome, but if they can, the rest should be relatively easy.

veloper:
They shouldn't have wasted time building the paint guns, the cage and the arm first, but instead make a prototype walker first.

Agreed. Look at that walker in the last picture. It looks more like a manga than a real object. Can it balance on one foot? I don't see how. And if you can't do that, you can't take a step. If that robot lifts a foot, it's falling over.

People seem to forget that the problem with bipedalism isn't balancing on two feet, it's balancing on one (and then the other one). The balance doesn't have to be perfect (in fact it's ideally slightly off), but it has to last long enough to take a step.

Its like we're TRYING to kickstart the Robopocalypse.

If only I had a million dollars or 2 I'd fund it just for the heck of owning a giant robot that I probably won't be able to pilot due to it being unable to properly move or not being legal to do so.

Interesting and exciting.

Still... tanks are better combat machines... giant mechs are shit combat designs *flies away*

That concept art at the end of the gallery looks just like something out of Mechwarrior.

Anyway, as cool as this seems, I'm wondering how they solved the issue of bipedal movement. Major strides have been made in mimicking bipedal movement with robots, but only at a much smaller scale. I'm curious how, or if, they've found a way to translate those advances to the scales needed for this project.

Perhaps they're using some new form of gyroscopic stabilizers? Or maybe the whole thing is a ruse designed to prey on fans of Mechwarrior and other mech-themed fiction.

Pyrian:
Agreed. Look at that walker in the last picture. It looks more like a manga than a real object. Can it balance on one foot? I don't see how. And if you can't do that, you can't take a step. If that robot lifts a foot, it's falling over.

People seem to forget that the problem with bipedalism isn't balancing on two feet, it's balancing on one (and then the other one). The balance doesn't have to be perfect (in fact it's ideally slightly off), but it has to last long enough to take a step.

Why not? We already have automatons that are very much capable of bipedal locomotion while staying balanced and not falling over. Not to mention that with a larger scale and a emphasis on a completely humanoid shape, you can do things with the legs to minimize this problem further. The problem is going to come with taking the force of multiple projectiles on the unit, especially in areas far away from the center of mass. Not to mention that unless there's a rule stating otherwise, I don't see reason why you couldn't solve the problem by taking the Armored Core route and wedding the mech with the tank.

Regardless, I think this has potential. I think however that it is still very much ahead of it's time. People with the money, the technical know-how, and the interest to participate in such an event do not exist in great enough number to make such an event commercially viable. Not to mention that most of the people who do are going to want to base their units off of designs they've seen in Anime/Video Games, and while I'd love to construct a real Alteisen and fire it's Heavy Claymores right up the fat ass of an Atlas, I don't fancy getting sued by Atlus, and I'm sure the other pilot doesn't want to be sued by Pirannah Games or whoever the hell owns the rights to the Mechwarrior stuff right now.

Spartan448:

Pyrian:
Agreed. Look at that walker in the last picture. It looks more like a manga than a real object. Can it balance on one foot? I don't see how. And if you can't do that, you can't take a step. If that robot lifts a foot, it's falling over.

People seem to forget that the problem with bipedalism isn't balancing on two feet, it's balancing on one (and then the other one). The balance doesn't have to be perfect (in fact it's ideally slightly off), but it has to last long enough to take a step.

Why not?

Why not what? That question seems like a complete non-sequitor to my post.

Spartan448:
We already have automatons that are very much capable of bipedal locomotion while staying balanced and not falling over.

Yes, and they tend to look like people rather than like fictional mechs, and for very good reasons. (Or, they use overlapping feet prongs, like children's toys, which is effective but clumsy.)

Spartan448:
Not to mention that with a larger scale and a emphasis on a completely humanoid shape, you can do things with the legs to minimize this problem further.

I'm not sure how larger scale helps anything; typically it does the opposite. As for "emphasis on a completely humanoid shape", um, that's not exactly what the concept art is displaying.

While this looks more awesome than anything mankind has ever created in its history... I'm just not convinced it's going to work. They keep repeating "the technology is here" but I really don't think it is. I just don't think they can do it, at least not to a level that will be worth the money. And honestly I feel just a bit insulted that they keep referencing different giant mech properties (why Real Steel, that wasn't a mecha movie, it was 8-foot tall robot boxers) to try and convince me "hey, you love this stuff don't you, give us your money and we'll make it for real!" Yes I DO love this stuff, I love mecha more than almost anything in existence, but I'm not going to be swayed into parting with my cash for your implausible project by you pandering to my geekiness. Show me this is going to WORK and CONVINCE me and maybe I'll contribute.

Exosquad! But I missed Gasaraki, it's so awesome!!!

Anyways, I hope some billionaire get's twinkles in his eyes and forks over all the money... ;)

I think tanks and jets will be the go to thing for war. At least until engine weight/power,articulation and metal and or composite materials are far lighter and stronger and cheaper than what we have now. Baby steps to Battletech style wars I guess.

It's cool, but i can't help but think that these robots fighting each other just isn't economically feasable. I mean these are expensive things to make, and every time they go into the arena, that's thousands and thousands worth of damage to the robots.

Firanai:
Realistically speaking, do any of you believe that they have any chance of getting enough money to kick-start this?

Nope. Plus some of the stuff these guys are hoping for is fairly unrealistic. For example one of them mentioned having fire and explosions coming off these things as they damage one another. What country in it's right mind is going to let anyone get in one of those things if there's a risk of them getting seriously injured? And even then what stadium would be crazy enough to let a bunch of giant robots shoot at each other while having a live audience? Then there are some of the other problems that others in the thread have mentioned like the whole bipedal robots thing. As much as I would love to see something like this succeed, there is just too much stuff they I don't think they've really figured out yet for this to be feasible. Maybe in another ten or twenty years, but not today.

I kind of have my doubts that this will come out of a freaking kickstarter of all things.
Seems to be another "solar freaking roadways" deal that just crumbles apart if you examine it up close.

I refuse to believe it's the future until I'm standing in a giant robot, wearing a spandex suit and telling someone how this hand of mine glows with an awesome power.

Pyrian:

Spartan448:
Why not?

Why not what? That question seems like a complete non-sequitor to my post.

It's just that. Why not? Why would the robot not be able to step? It's no difference than say a knight who puts on armor and hefts a sword and a shield. He can still step just fine. We can already build machines that stand asymmetrically. We just need to adapt that technology for something mobile. Remember that we aren't necessarily going to be immediately watching mechs striding across the battlefield at 60km/hr like the light mechs in Mechwarrior, or even some of the heavier ones as well - At first, these things are going to be slow to move and slow to doge, and the victor is going to be whoever can land more shots or bigger shots and outslug his or her opponent first.

Pyrian:

Spartan448:
We already have automatons that are very much capable of bipedal locomotion while staying balanced and not falling over.

Yes, and they tend to look like people rather than like fictional mechs, and for very good reasons. (Or, they use overlapping feet prongs, like children's toys, which is effective but clumsy.)

I would say that making something that looks like a person and keeping that balanced is a lot harder than making something with no design constraints other than "it has to move on two legs or more" if that at all. With no specific constraints on what the parts need to look like, we can build in things like anchors on the legs that will support the bot during locomotion, or simply build wide bases that could help distribute the load.

Pyrian:

Spartan448:
Not to mention that with a larger scale and a emphasis on a completely humanoid shape, you can do things with the legs to minimize this problem further.

I'm not sure how larger scale helps anything; typically it does the opposite. As for "emphasis on a completely humanoid shape", um, that's not exactly what the concept art is displaying.

Larger scale does not beget more problems than smaller scale, as they both have their own sets of problems. Larger scale items may need to compensate more for small defects, while smaller scale things may be too complex to fix at all. It's all about identifying whether you are dealing with a large or small scale problem and reacting accordingly. As for the "humanoid shape" thing, I misspoke, I meant to say that will less of an emphasis on a completely humanoid shape, you have more leeway to modify the legs beyond being just things to stand on.

Again, the big problem here is not the physics of it, because with enough time those problems can be overcome. The problem is that there is just no market for any of this right now, and you have to get past that before anyone is willing to take you seriously. If this project gets funded, as amazing as it is, I will weep for all the people who lost their money on this fool's errand.

YES! YES!! ALL THE YES!!

Mike Pothier:
Its like we're TRYING to kickstart the Robopocalypse.

No, it will be the AWESOMEPOCALYPSE, the end of days from too much cool shit happening at once!

*Waits for the whole of Japan to take to this like a certain other country's Starcraft obsession*

This gives me tingles :D I'm sold

veloper:
Bipedal locomotion is very hard to imitate. Other projects by bigger boys sofar have resulted in very limited and clumsy robots.

They shouldn't have wasted time building the paint guns, the cage and the arm first, but instead make a prototype walker first. That's the hurdle they are the least likely to overcome, but if they can, the rest should be relatively easy.

I agree that it's hard to pull off but it's been done successfully. Have you seen Boston Dynamics' Petman? The technology already exists and making it bigger should be easier than making it smaller I would imagine. Granted these guys aren't being funded by DARPA like Boston Dynamics is but still.

Jingle Fett:
This gives me tingles :D I'm sold

veloper:
Bipedal locomotion is very hard to imitate. Other projects by bigger boys sofar have resulted in very limited and clumsy robots.

They shouldn't have wasted time building the paint guns, the cage and the arm first, but instead make a prototype walker first. That's the hurdle they are the least likely to overcome, but if they can, the rest should be relatively easy.

I agree that it's hard to pull off but it's been done successfully. Have you seen Boston Dynamics' Petman? The technology already exists and making it bigger should be easier than making it smaller I would imagine. Granted these guys aren't being funded by DARPA like Boston Dynamics is but still.

Yep, those are the big boys and even their mech legs are still unsuitable.

Jingle Fett:

I agree that it's hard to pull off but it's been done successfully. Have you seen Boston Dynamics' Petman? The technology already exists and making it bigger should be easier than making it smaller I would imagine. Granted these guys aren't being funded by DARPA like Boston Dynamics is but still.

While the technology is certainly there, anything funded by DARPA probably has a much larger bankroll than a $1.8M Kickstarter. Maybe if you replace the M with a B.

Tbf they aren't the first, build upon what we see in the video and it could work.

So its finally happening eh ? Looks like skynet will be in for a treat when she takes over.

That balance is thanks to Andreas Hofmann, a humanoid controls engineer. Drawing from his Ph.D. thesis, "Robust Execution of Bipedal Walking Tasks From Biomechanical Principles," engineers have run simulations scaled up for the MegaBots exploring how the MegaBots will walk.

Ah, I've lost interest now. If the giant robots aren't using jet packs or rocket boots, quite frankly what's the point?

veloper:
They shouldn't have wasted time building the paint guns, the cage and the arm first, but instead make a prototype walker first. That's the hurdle they are the least likely to overcome, but if they can, the rest should be relatively easy.

You start at the most demanding part when you are assured funds to finish, but they will have very little money and by the end of their budget they need something that will entertain, not a stick that can wander around on it's own. Spending time on legs with this little cash could kill the project where it stands, but merely having a driving platform and the rest of their combat aspect functional would provide 90% of what they need to run a show.
Time would be much better spent on showmanship, rockets, mortars, flamers, lasers, pyrotechnic ammo instead of paint, detachable body parts, possibly melee weapons,... that shit makes a show worth watching.

And later on if this makes real money they can still do their legs and wow the audience all over again.

veloper:

Jingle Fett:
This gives me tingles :D I'm sold

veloper:
Bipedal locomotion is very hard to imitate. Other projects by bigger boys sofar have resulted in very limited and clumsy robots.

They shouldn't have wasted time building the paint guns, the cage and the arm first, but instead make a prototype walker first. That's the hurdle they are the least likely to overcome, but if they can, the rest should be relatively easy.

I agree that it's hard to pull off but it's been done successfully. Have you seen Boston Dynamics' Petman? The technology already exists and making it bigger should be easier than making it smaller I would imagine. Granted these guys aren't being funded by DARPA like Boston Dynamics is but still.

Yep, those are the big boys and even their mech legs are still unsuitable.

Unsuitable? It walks up stairs, it can be pushed while walking without falling, it can walk on unstable rocky terrain, it can even balance on one foot while being pushed. You need much less than that for big slow piloted assault mechs, the main difference is they just need to make it bigger and making stuff bigger is usually easier than making it smaller.
The question isn't whether the tech exists or can be done effectively, we know the big boys can pull it off. It's whether these particular guys can build bigger/slower versions on the budget they're asking for and whether their algorithms are up to snuff.

anyone remmeber that show from the 90s called robot wars where people would fight in arena with remote control robots? those were awesome. if that got to bigger we may get to be like that film where robot boxing is a thing.

I really want to see giant robots fighting... Like really really want to see it happen.
But listening to a guy describe this project with terms like "And then a robot goes 'whoosh, kapow' and then there's flames and the other robot is like 'oh my god, kablamow' and then your robot wins and becomes king of the playground" did not fill me with confidence.

Plus, no matter how good your algorithms are, tracked mechs carry more weight, so more armour. Walkers at our currents level don't have the speed or agility to outdo them.
So imagine my big, heavy armoured, tracked, low center of gravity, monstrosity bearing down on your mech with the main intent of flipping you off your feet.

My cynicism just doesn't trust anymore. Watching the video and reading about it the impression I get is either some people who are completed deluded by astoundingly unrealistic goals or three people who are using the goodwill and 'fanboyism' of the gaming world to raise funds and garner publicity for their engineering shop.

I imaging the truth lies somewhere in the middle and no one has such clear-cut goals (such as "make mechwarrior" or "exploit people") but it's hard to imagine this is going to come of anything and it's a shame people are going to give them real moneys just for the sheer bad-assery of the concept.

Please note much more robot fun is to be had with Mechwarrior Online, got some troubling f2p elements but ignore all that shit and stomp around in giant robots shooting eachother.

Oh also I love that concept picture of a tiny arena with robots shooting real guns supposedly piloted by two people each. The audience is also like *right* there. Are they proposing we attempt to bring back blood sports as a final goal?

Edit: Additionally in response to saying that they shouldn't concentrate on the viability of walking first. Well if you start a project you lay out what you have to do and the time/resources required to do each thing. If one thing is going to take the most time and resouces (in this case being based on technology that does not yet exist for something of this size/shape/purpose) then you do that thing first/along-side other small things. Otherwise if this large thing that takes up the most things can't be done then you have not wasted your time and resources on the other things to go with it.

Edit edit: Also this whole thing is entirely based on "wouldn't that be awesome?". We have video-games for this purpose already. Giant walking robots are incredibly impractical. Until we have robots that are as agile as people they are effectively redundant, at least for large sizes. We already have far more practical versions, they are called tanks. They are very fast, manouverable and can cross most types of terrain. All this along with having multiple weapons that can acquire and track targets at high speed while moving in all directions.

Giant walking robots are absolutely awesome but our ideas of what they should be do not reflect the necessity of practicality in real life. I imagine if large walking robots every become a reality they will be vastly different from our current conceptions.

Jingle Fett:

veloper:

Jingle Fett:
This gives me tingles :D I'm sold

I agree that it's hard to pull off but it's been done successfully. Have you seen Boston Dynamics' Petman? The technology already exists and making it bigger should be easier than making it smaller I would imagine. Granted these guys aren't being funded by DARPA like Boston Dynamics is but still.

Yep, those are the big boys and even their mech legs are still unsuitable.

Unsuitable? It walks up stairs, it can be pushed while walking without falling, it can walk on unstable rocky terrain, it can even balance on one foot while being pushed. You need much less than that for big slow piloted assault mechs, the main difference is they just need to make it bigger and making stuff bigger is usually easier than making it smaller.
The question isn't whether the tech exists or can be done effectively, we know the big boys can pull it off. It's whether these particular guys can build bigger/slower versions on the budget they're asking for and whether their algorithms are up to snuff.

Just imagine a rollcage on a super-scaled version of that. No need for pelting the pilots with bullets of paint when just setting the mech to walk will shake the occupant into submission.

Smooth Operator:

veloper:
They shouldn't have wasted time building the paint guns, the cage and the arm first, but instead make a prototype walker first. That's the hurdle they are the least likely to overcome, but if they can, the rest should be relatively easy.

You start at the most demanding part when you are assured funds to finish, but they will have very little money and by the end of their budget they need something that will entertain, not a stick that can wander around on it's own. Spending time on legs with this little cash could kill the project where it stands, but merely having a driving platform and the rest of their combat aspect functional would provide 90% of what they need to run a show.
Time would be much better spent on showmanship, rockets, mortars, flamers, lasers, pyrotechnic ammo instead of paint, detachable body parts, possibly melee weapons,... that shit makes a show worth watching.

And later on if this makes real money they can still do their legs and wow the audience all over again.

Yeah, robots on wheels is what's probably going to happen if this projects succeeds. Count me out.

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