Way back in the early years of this blog, we brought you news of the ultimate art car: Kuratas. A 4-ton, 13-foot tall, $1.3 million art robot, made in Japan.
[Kogoro Kurata, Kuratas Robot Designer]:
“The robots we saw in our generation were always big, always had people riding them. So I don’t think those have much meaning in the real world. But it was really my dream to ride in one of those giant robots, and I think that it’s a kind of Japanese culture. I kept thinking that it’s something that Japanese had to do.”
The creator showed off the Kuratas Robot at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo. It is human controlled; from the cockpit, a driver can move the robot’s arms and drive it up to 6.2 miles per hour.
The battle mech is just a prototype, but Kurata’s website is already taking orders. People have options for weapons, shields, and even an iPhone holder. This prototype was armed with Gatling cannons that can shoot BBs.
But don’t break out your wallet just yet. The Kuratas Robot starts at around $1.3 million, and options can send it much higher.
[Wataru Yoshizaki, Kuratas Programmer]:
“If indeed giant robots and cars are being sold at the same price, then I would, of course, choose the giant robot.
Well, America have responded with a robot of their own…and thrown down the gauntlet.
“Finally, after millennia of bullshit agriculture and metallurgy and revolutions industrial, political, cultural, whatever, shit’s finally getting good.” –Jason Torchinsky, Jalopnik
They sure are. And the big-time Burners at Autodesk are backing it. At least, they put up $2,500 for a design contest:
Winners will walk away with $2,500 cash and your designs built and brought to life by MegaBots. Designs will be unleashed at Bay Area Maker Faire 2015!
I suspect there’s a lot more money on the line here than that. The winners have been picked:
Here’s the original challenge from MegaBots:
The team behind SuidoBashi Heavy Industries robot Kuratas has responded to the challenge, and the two robots are going to fight. But, they have one stipulation: a more traditional Japanese “hand to hand” melee battle, rather than the “super-American” Big Fucking Guns (shooting paint cannon-balls).
The local team might be getting ahead of themselves. Kuratas looks pretty stable…
…while the MegaBot team’s efforts are not yet finished:
We’ve built an upper body prototype of a MegaBot, a missile turret adversary, and a walking simulation of a to-scale robot by building off of Andreas Hofmann’s Ph.D. thesis. We’re currently developing a new, tracked version of a MegaBot in partnership with Autodesk in time for Maker Faire Bay Area 2015. Soon, we’ll be designing full-scale walking robots that can compete in arena combat.
The tracks are on in these recent photos. Some reconfiguration will be needed for the melee.
from MegaBot’s debut at SF Maker Faire in May
Both robots are currently designed to have human operators inside (MegaBot has 2). This may be dangerous when it comes to real melee combat between 4-ton machines.
Mashable reports that the two robots are fairly evenly matched:
MegaBot Mark II is 15 feet tall and rolls around on a pair of giant tank treads. Suidobashi’s mech is 13 feet tall and uses four swiveling wheels.
But there are some big differences. MegaBot Mark II cost about $175,000 to build and weighs 12,000 pounds; Suidobashi’s sells for more than $1 million and is about 9,000 pounds. “[Suidobashi] is about three times faster than we are,” MegaBots cofounder Gui Cavalcanti said. “Their tech is currently more advanced, but we have about a year to catch up. I think it’ll even out.”
Some readers have mentioned that this story reminds them of the Hugh Jackman movie, Real Steel.
In fact, that movie was inspired by an earlier prototype version of robot boxing, created by Burners at the same art warehouse on Treasure Island where artists like Marco Cochrane and Peter Hudson create their masterpieces.
Even before that, we had the Hand of Man at Burning Man…and other, off-Playa events.
Going back still further, Burning Man Founder John Law and others were part of Survival Research Labs, an arts collective that made use of big robot-like machines in their shows. These early Burners were also the founders of the Cacophony Society, which inspired member Chuck Pahlaniuk to write Fight Club…the secret society Project Mayhem is supposedly based on their antics and secretive, underworld, revolutionary nature.
From the titles of the SRL shows, you get the gist of the sentiment behind this crew: no love and light hippies, here. Early Burning Man featured a lot of flamethrowers, guns, and explosions…before Helco.
Extremely Cruel Practices
A Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief
A Calculated Foreceast of Ultimate Doom
Illusions of Shameless Abundance
A Plan For Social Improvement (based on achieving complete freedom from the restraints of civilization)
A Million Inconsiderate Experiments
This may have inspired the UK TV series Robot Wars, which started in 1998 and ran for 4 seasons.
Although sort of fun, Roomba fighting is nowhere near as exciting as Giant Freaking Robots. Even an 18 Roomba free-for-all.
Google was founded by Burners and is heavily staffed with Burners, from the Chairman and CEO on down. They were the first company to commodify the Burning Man image in their marketing, beating even Girls Gone Wild. Technically, they didn’t “officially” have a business model back then – this technicality seems to set a precedent for any other “pre-revenue” startup that wishes to use Burning Man to similarly promote themselves. Google today are still by far the largest profit-maker from Burner culture, given the lucrative advertising sold whenever anyone is watching Burning Man viral videos on YouTube, talking about BM on GMail, and so on.
This $360 billion Burner company are also now the largest manufacturer of military robots on the planet, although they’ve been tight-lipped about their plans. They are launching their own balloons and drones to create an Internet in the Sky.
When it comes to the other side of SkyNet, the A.I. that connects all the drones and bots together, Google already have by far the most advanced artificial intelligence. One flavor of this is currently captivating the Internet with its twisted dreams.
Recently they “fed” the AI Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas (the movie)…teaching it how to trip.
Elon Musk described current Artificial Intelligence efforts as like “summoning the demon in a pentagram”.
Already, robots are killing us.
This is all becoming very real, very fast.
This documentary about AI and robotics is dated May 2015:
Soon we may have robot jousting – or robot polo. Or both. But I’m tipping the knight-to-knight combat will draw a bigger audience than robots pushing a ball around.
The new Terminator 5 movie just opened (weakly). Like 1984 and Brave New World, the Terminator series has proved to be amazingly prescient over the 3 decades since it was launched – in 1984. Much of what was science fiction then, is starting to become real today. 2015 is the year in “the Future”, that Michael J Fox went back to. His famous hoverboard was quite recently an amusing farce with Tony Hawk and then became a real product with Tony Hawk and now is being promoted by Lexus as a “coming soon” product.
It seems like Kiwi (these days) James Cameron’s other franchise Avatar is priming us for the next revolutionary world. Virtual reality has been building for a long time, and Burning Man has long been immersed in it. They launched their own online world in Second Life in 2003 called Burn 2, and Second Life founder Philip Rosedale said he was inspired to create it by Burning Man. Counter-culture guru Timothy Leary called VR “the new LSD“. VR pioneers like Mark Pesce, Howard Rheingold and Jaron Lanier are Burners. Rheingold wrote a book called Virtual Reality and coined the term “Flash Mobs” after street theater activities organized by Burning Man small-f founder Flash Hopkins. More recently, the Microsoft Holo Lens is being created by a Burner-led team.
The cyberspace Regional Burn2 is coming up soon…July 10-12. The theme is “Primordial – a Playa Before Time”
With all the money being spent lately on
3d Facebook immersive realms and self-driving cars and household robot helpers that care and life-like sex dolls... giant fighting war robots probably make a good business case to someone. Hey, there are already 42 different robots you can fuck. Fucking and punching is what it’s all about, as Californication fans know.
Robot UFC, bring it on! I’d rather we train these AIs on each other, than testing on humans or animals. However, methinks there is more behind the construction of these things that mere sports and entertainment. Check out this piece at Jay’s Analysis for an interesting perspective on where it’s all come from and where it may be going.
The biggest walking robot in the world looks like some of our Mutant Vehicles…
If ever there was an arena suitable for robot melee training, it’s the Playa. Just add flamethrowers!