This startup wants to start a league for giant combat robot mechs

These giant robots are looking for a fight
These giant robots are looking for a fight

There's a new sporting league in the works and it involves enormous human-operated robots that battle each other to the "death."

MegaBots just raised $2.4 million in seed funding to get started. It has hired a prominent sports and entertainment attorney at Latham & Watkins to figure out how to structure the finances, organize the company and move forward with plans, according to the law firm.

Those plans include making it easier for companies to build hydraulic robots on their own. MegaBots plans to develop and sell a kit of parts to other companies that want to build battle-ready robots.

Cofounder Brinkley Warren says MegaBots is modeling the business after McLaren and Formula 1 racing.

"Every Formula 1 team is required to purchase components from McLaren," he said. "We are [like] a combination of [a sporting] league, Formula 1, and McLaren."

TechCrunch first reported on the funding.

"Multi-ton behemoths will swing punches, tearing steel armor panels off each other until one mech is left standing, while the opponent is left a heap of scrap metal," says MegaBots on its website. "Welcome to the future of sports."

The California startup made headlines last year when it announced that its MegaBot Mk.II would fight KURATAS, a dueling robot from Japanese robotics company Suidobashi.

MegaBots' mech weighs 6 tons, stands at 15-feet tall, and can shoot "cannonball-sized paintballs" at other robots.

After Suidobashi accepted the challenge, MegaBots raised more than $550,000 to upgrade its bot through a Kickstarter campaign.

"In order for the Mk.II to survive hand-to-hand combat, we need to add heavy duty armor plating, add some serious firepower, upgrade our hydraulics to handle the heavier armor and firepower, increase our top speed, [and] upgrade our power unit to keep up with our new hydraulic system and speed," MegaBots said.

The startup is also trying to figure out ways to make the bot less top-heavy and safer for its human pilots who sit in a cockpit.

No duel date has been set yet, and MegaBots is still making improvements. The competition is intended mainly to promote the league and the idea of using fighting robots for sport, Warren says. "When it comes to competing, we have to maintain the integrity of the sport, the same way the NFL doesn't have their own team."

MegaBots founders are Matt Oehrlein, Gui Cavalcanti and Brinkley Warren. They have backgrounds in electrical engineering, design, robotics, and media.

The team has already been exhibiting the bot around the country.

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