America's greatest giant combat robot is raising crazy cash on Kickstarter

The nation's great steel hope is looking to raise funds to battle Japan's meanest robot next year in a true battle of the Pacific Rim.

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Eric Mack
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Mk.II blasted fans in San Diego with t-shirts. Kristen Ambrose

America's favorite giant robot is halfway to a major upgrade. It only took about a day for MegaBots' Mk. II (pronounced "Mark Two") robot to get halfway to its goal on Kickstarter. The upgrade is expected to enable the giant fighting robot to take on its Japanese rival, Kuratas, in an epic piloted robot duel.

Earlier this summer, American bot-maker MegaBots challenged the veritable veteran of the giant robot world, made by Japan's Suidobashi Heavy Industries, to a battle royale, without all the Hollywood special effects a la "Pacific Rim" -- just a good old-fashioned metal-on-metal beatdown, perhaps with some cannonball-sized paint balls to add a little color.

Kuratas and Suidobashi accepted the challenge and now MegaBots is attempting to raise half a million dollars on Kickstarter to outfit the American bot with new armor, hydraulics, weapons systems, a power unit and faster wheels (actually they're tracks, like on a tank). As of this writing, and with 29 days still left in the campaign, Megabots has already raised about half of its goal.

"The upgraded Mk. II will be the definition of an American robot. She'll be five times faster and powerful, self-balancing and armored for hand-to-hand combat," MegaBots co-founder Gui Cavalcanti said in the pitch video below.

Believe it or not, the existing, 6-ton iteration of the Mk. II is considered to be lightweight and designed for paintball combat at a distance. The crowdfunded upgrades will allow for it to withstand more brutal "hand-to-hand" combat with Kuratas.

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A sampling of additional weapons MegaBots hopes to add to the Mk. II arsenal. MegaBots

Should the Kickstarter go above and beyond its half-million dollar goal -- as it seems primed to -- MegaBots has plans for that extra cash. Stretch goals start with creating some new weapons that could include claws, pneumatically driven fists, cannons and flamethrowers, among other items taken directly from my adolescent dreams.

If the campaign raises over $1 million, the team hopes to get even fancier with a new dynamic balancing algorithm. Somewhat hilariously, only if $1.25 million is raised will the team consider spending money working with NASA on life safety systems that could be employed in the cockpit.

"Safety 4th, folks," the campaign pitch drawls.

"I've worked on every robotics system to ever drive on the surface of Mars," assures NASA's Dave Lavery in a statement. "We're looking at how we might use NASA technologies to help keep these guys safe when they take a punch."

Finally, if the campaign meets its ultimate stretch goal and raises $1.5 million -- an amount at which the team apparently runs out of amazing ideas for spending it -- MegaBots proposes adding a "Hollywood-grade paint job."

In exchange for supporting the MegaBots Kickstarter, there's a variety of schwag being offered in turn for various pledge levels, from stickers, shirts and posters to the opportunity to ride in the Mk. II or serve in the pit crew for the battle with Kuratas.

"If you want to pilot one of these monstrosities -- and believe me, you do -- Kickstarter is the way to do it. This is your chance," implores Megabots co-founder Matt Oehrlein.

Well, yes, but I'd feel a lot better about the idea if safety systems weren't so far down the team's list of priorities.

The battle is set to take place in mid-2016; the exact time and location are still to be determined.

Watch this: From Ant-Man to giant robot battles, Face the Mecha-future on the CraveCast, Ep. 15