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News Link • Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Megabots: Paintball with giant robots

•, By David Szondy

That seems to be the thinking of the people behind the MegaBots Kickstarter campaign, who are raising money to build giant humanoid robots with human drivers to take on each other in paintball arena games.

A MegaBot is the sort of robot that stands out in a crowd. Run by a driver-and-gunner team, the 15-ft (4.5-m) tall walking robot weighs 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) and has modular arms tipped with pneumatic guns firing 3-lb (1.3-kg) paint MegaBalls at 120 mph (193 km/h). According to the makers, it's clad in customizable breakaway armor plating that flies off when it takes a hit while, like a videogame, a computer keeps track of "damage" and makes the robot eject limbs, limp, make noise, and jam its weapons as the hits mount.

This giant machine is the center of a Kickstarter campaign by "20 engineers, scientists, designers, artists, fabricators, and producers" to raise US$1.8 million to construct two MegaBots. The team is currently working on the prototypes and final design and has constructed a prototype upper body and arm, as well as a prototype gun emplacement and two weapon system as technology demonstrators. According to the team, this involves developing battery-powered miniature electro-hydraulic power plants, giant paintball ammunition, bespoke air cannons, and walking algorithms to allow the two-legged machines to negotiate an obstacle course.

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