We All Need To Calm Down About This USA Vs Japan Robot Duel

We All Need To Calm Down About This USA Vs Japan Robot Duel

OK, internet. Everyone just needs to simmah down, now. I know we’re all excited about the supposedly looming international giant robot duel between America and Japan. I am too. But! We should also be wary. Patient. Because it miiiight not be as cool as we think.

Here’s the genesis of the chrome-shredding showdown that’s hopefully, actually, maybe happening: US-based MegaBots and Japan-based Suidobashi Heavy Industries both have huge human-piloted robots. MegaBot Mark II and Kuratas, respectively. The former is 4.6m tall and 5400kg; the other, 4m and 3600kg.

Last week, MegaBots challenged Suidobashi Heavy to a duel. Boom! What happened next? This week, Suidobashi accepted. The internet goes wild! International media outlets, subreddits, Twitter feeds and Facebook posts flood with hype.

And yet, this fight, which will apparently happen a year from now, might just be only that: hype.

The battle itself isn’t going to be anything out of a big-budget Hollywood popcorn flick. But, even so, it’s a cyberpunk’s dream come true, and nowadays, fighting mechas are far from science fiction.

“A robot duel is definitely feasible, and I expect it to be visually appealing,” says Clark Haynes, a commercialisation specialist at the Robotics Institute’s National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon University. He was also the software lead for the NREC team that finished third in last month’s

But hey! If giant Pacific Rim-style death matches are what get people interested in robots, I shouldn’t be complaining. Haynes agrees.

“Robots in pop culture set the bar very high compared to what is possible with today’s technology,” he says. “It’s the hope, of course, that competitions like this one will keep the public engaged and help build excitement about the many cool things that robots can do, including entertain us.”

And so, I remain cautiously excited. As long as this doesn’t end up being vapourware, I’ll be the first one streaming it, popcorn in hand, big stupid grin on my face.