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Deal of the century: “Dinged up” 15-ton, giant fighting robot

Add some muscle to your fleet with Eagle Prime, the hydraulic hero of America’s brief robot war with Japan. Yours for pennies on the dollar.

You may not think you need a slow moving 30,000-lb. two-seater mech, the Internet famous Eagle Prime made by Hayward, Calif.-based MegaBots, with a chainsaw hand and the odd battle scar, but hear me out. What if I were to tell you that chainsaw hand (in reality a massive rock trencher) could be swapped out for a double-barreled pneumatic cannon? And that right now, this 16-ft. tall hydraulically operated tank with a LS3 V8 Corvette engine and about $2.5 million worth of parts could be had for mere pittance. It’s being auctioned off right now on eBay ($50,800 as of publishing) and bids will be considered until Oct. 3 at 9:30 p.m.

Interested? No doubt you are. But any reasonable skeptic would want to first know why MegaBots is getting rid of it. Here’s the gist: Two twentysomething video game-obsessed engineers, Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, thought real-life giant piloted mechs doing battle in stadiums could become the next big sport. And it would get kids more interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). They built a crude gas-powered 6-ton prototype, the Mk. II (later known as Iron Glory) that dazzled at a few live events by shooting paintballs at targets and cars and challenged a Japanese mech maker with a cherry red fighter named Kuratas to an old-fashioned deathmatch.

The 2015 YouTube video went viral, Japan accepted and then people waited for something to happen. MegaBots had attracted millions in investments and several corporate partners, including Autodesk and Parker Hannifin, and leveraged NASA and NASCAR tech to help make the new prototype stronger and safe enough for the pilots nestled in the mech cockpit.

For an in-depth look at its construction, here’s my write-up from my visit to Fortress One, aka Megabots HQ.

The fight did happen in September of 2017 and aired that October. And the Americans did win, though the semi-staged battle in an abandoned Japanese steel mill could not defeat 2+ years of unreasonably high expectations. The chainsaw hand was used and mechs got knocked down and torn apart, but since all three pilots (two in Eagle Prime and one in Kuratas) and both machines lived to fight another day, the blood-hungry Internet mob felt betrayed. Physics and financial considerations be damned, they wanted an epic Transformers style brawl and they got preseason football.

Two years later, only Oehrlein was left to try and make something of venture, traveling all over and making YouTube videos to drum up interest again. He rented it out to corporate events and people would pay to drive it and smash things, but that’s the revenue-generating equivalent birthday parties and pony rides. Out of money, MegaBots is now selling its assets, even it’s biggest one.

If you are still interested, there are a few things to note. According to the seller’s note, it does have “a few dings and dents from engaging in close-quarters nation-on-nation combat for technological supremacy with Japan's most famous giant robot.” Oehrlein also points out in the video below that the tank treads are pretty worn out and will need to be replaced.

On the ebay page, Oerhlein wrote: “We’ll include the CAD files, but you’ll have to machine them or find a supplier to make them for you. The current ones probably lasted for about 40 hours of drive time on concrete. You should budget around $7K to pay a supplier to make them for you.

and any one of many hydraulic hoses snaking from the base to the arms and other axes may rupture and need to be fixed. A fairly handy person can fix these with a wrench and o-ring, Oehrlein affirms.

You’ll need to be (or know) a proficient coder to get Eagle Prime to perform new trucks, but it has highly sophisticated mobility algorithms written by IHMC.

Moving the mech isn’t easy. Domestic costs for a round trip can be anywhere from $4,000 to $35,000 and will require a low-boy trailer and chains. Ramps are included.

For the fleet owners and owner-operators looking for a change of scenery or second job, this could be the investment of a lifetime.

According to the eBay page: “If you have your own truck to haul it, you could probably make a living hauling it around and doing private events. Just make sure you budget around $2500 in fuel, repairs, and maintenance for each appearance. Things break on this robot, and you’ll have to change the oil every now and then.

As someone who followed this story from the begining, it's weird to think of such an impressive specimen like a used car, but considering how we typically treat athletes and veterans once they hit a certain age, Eagle Prime is in good company. And Oerhelin, who has dedicated at least six years to making giant fighting robots a thing, remains optimistic, and wrote ont he YouTube video description:

"Hi Everyone! It's been an awesome ride. We all really appreciate everyone's support. A few things: Please do not feel bad for us/me. This was an incredible journey and I think I speak for the entire team when I say I am VERY happy it happened. Instead, let's all celebrate how far we actually got. And who knows, maybe the robot sells for enough to try again? :)"

 

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