I am not interested
in destruction. In fact, I
have a thorough
distaste for violence in
general. Which makes
our continual coverage
of MegaBots and its
giant fighting machines
an odd fit.
I am, however,
extremely interested in
creativity, in gumption
and innovation. And that—even with the destruction and
violence—is exactly what Megabots is offering.
We started covering MegaBots in 2015, with the Mk. II gracing
our October 2016 cover. At the time, that project felt like the
pinnacle achievement of the maker movement: two dudes with
some skills, a small team, and financial backing built a legit giant
fighting robot. Sure, it was rough; the mechanics were a little
crude, and the whole project seemed a bit DIY. And that was
great. That’s exactly what the maker movement is all about, right?
It’s a project I often highlighted in my talks about makers
and innovation. A giant killer robot created ex nihilo by a
couple of guys with a good idea.
Traditionally, that’s where the story should have ended.
But it did not.
Here we are again a year later with a whole new robot, a
whole system that doesn’t seem DIY at all. It’s a 16-ft-tall real
giant fighting robot backed by a giant team, a giant pile of
resources, and some of the very best equipment and knowhow
in the industry.
So what happened? Collaboration happened.
This is no small achievement. It’s something we’ve been
trying to unlock in the manufacturing industry for decades.
Formally, the U.S. has been trying to accomplish this through
Manufacturing USA (or the National Network for Manufacturing
Innovation) since 2014.
The idea is simple: the U.S. is filled with some of the
smartest manufacturing and design engineers in the world, all
of them siloed in competing companies and universities where
genius is forced to remain hidden and proprietary. If we’re
going to fully address the challenges facing the industry
today—from new uses for industrial 3D printing to energy
storage to smart manufacturing—it makes a lot of sense to
break down those walls and bring that genius together.
That’s a hard sell. And for those of us cheerleading the
movement, it’s been a long and anxious wait for tangible results.
But the Mk. III rolls in on its armored tracks from Howe and
Howe Technologies, swinging killer arms powered by Parker,
and held together by Lincoln Electric welds. And it suddenly
seems like something might be starting to happen.
Sure, it might be for an extremely niche project and a
long-shot new extreme sport. But looking at the Mk. II and the
Mk. III side-by-side, the potential for industrial collaboration
seems pretty obvious.
When we step aside from competition and market advantag-
es for a minute and focus our energies on creating something
legitimately cool, something profoundly innovative and
groundbreaking, the results will amaze the world.
And as we clamor to find our footing again as a global
manufacturing leader, this one project gives me the most
hope. Even if it is just a giant fighting robot.
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of claims in descriptions of new and improved products furnished to
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