Progress, Demo Day, and Duel Update
It's been awhile since we updated, and for that we sincerely apologize. We've been focusing all of our energy on the robot and our negotiations, and less on outreach. Work on the robot has continued at top speed, and work setting up the duel has continued at best possible speed, but we haven't posted about it for a few reasons. These reasons include but are not limited to:
- We're under a mutual NDA with Suidobashi regarding planning for the duel. We cannot legally disclose details about the duel until both parties are ready to release such details.
- We're planning an event in which people are piloting multi-ton combat robots that are trying to destroy each other, without harming the pilots, and that takes a lot of careful consideration.
- We're in active negotiations with the venue of the duel. Any disclosures regarding the nature of or location of the duel would endanger those negotiations, and could prevent it from happening.
- We're documenting the design and fabrication process but don't want to tease much of it until it's finalized and ready to reveal, which won't be for a little while yet.
- We don't want to accidentally give Suidobashi an edge on our design by posting too much about it publicly.
We can say that the duel is still on, though delayed, and we're working as hard as we can to sign all of the contracts and lock it down. To give you guys an example of why this is so difficult to work out, transporting one team's robot by air to the venue looks like it will cost around $200,000 to $300,000 round trip - half the cost of what this Kickstarter raised. Transporting the robots by sea is a more cost effective option, but we would risk having the robots arrive rusted, damaged and non-functional - a month or two after we ship them. In addition, getting a completely custom, 6-ton robot specifically designed for combat through another country's customs office is presenting a... whole new level of logistical challenges. Rest assured that our work continues unabated, but progress is slow.
We've also been working on setting up MegaDay, formerly known as "Demo Day." MegaDay will be the first public unveiling of our robot. We can't announce a firm date and location yet because we're still working through the contract for the venue. We can say that we're looking to have MegaDay at an arena near San Francisco mid-November, but the date is still up in the air until the contract is in place. We will let you guys know the second the ink is signed on the contract, which should hopefully be within the next 2 weeks based on current negotiations.
In the meantime, work is continuing on the robot. This is a picture of the track base getting gassed up at Howe & Howe Technologies - they bolted a seat on for us so we could drive it around like a giant, treaded go-kart. The engine has straight pipes out of the exhaust - no muffler on this bad boy! Our guess is that this robot will be one of the loudest robots on earth once it gets going!
We're now stress-testing the Mk.II and test-firing our weapons on a regular basis, and as a result we moved to a facility with a dedicated outdoor testing yard. We've taken over part of a junkyard, where our landlord buys old heavy equipment, fixes it up, and sells it. As a result, we have access to ridiculously heavy equipment when we need it. For example, here's a picture of a 25-ton-rated forklift with a 10,000-pound-rated forklift between its tines.
We've been testing the robot's cockpit and canopy for structural integrity with our crash test dummy, Randy. Randy didn't have a very good time in the early tests, but he was a good sport about it. He's helping us figure out how to make this robot as safe as humanly possible.
We've tested our cockpit a number of ways, including shooting ourselves with our old weaponry. This is our old right-arm cannon strapped to a forklift; we call it DangerTruck.
Here's our mechanical engineer Lyra taking an appropriately stylish selfie as we were setting up for another test.
We apologize again for the lack of communication on our parts - we're working on doing better in the future, especially as we have more that we can legally share.
This is our full time job, and we take it and our responsibility to you all very seriously. We have 11 full-time staff members now, we're hiring more as I write this, and it's looking like this robot will cost around $2.3M at the end of the day (including both labor and materials). The cost of the robot was offset by private investment and corporate sponsorship, which has allowed us to build a robust, expandable infrastructure of hydraulic robot technology that we can turn into a kit of parts for a future giant robot sports league.
We're getting it done, and we couldn't have done it without you guys. Please be patient with us as we work to make the impossible come to life.