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Welcome to the world of mecha battles

Here's news we're legitimately excited to bring you: Right now, teams in the US and Japan are working feverishly to build the perfect anime-style battle robot. These human-piloted, metal behemoths are loaded down with weaponry, heads-up displays and other impressive tech, all for one reason: To battle it out with other giant robots for sport.

The first fight is coming soon. Here's what you need to know about it.

Published:Caption:Photo:Greg Munson
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Meet Team Japan

Let's start with the most important part: the robots.

Team Japan's entry in the fight, Kuratas, was originally created as an art project by Suidobashi Heavy Industry. Kuratas stands approximately 12 feet tall and weighs 8,000 pounds.

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... and now, Team USA

Of course, Team USA's mecha needs to be bigger and better. So it is.

Meet the MegaBot Mk. II. Originally hailing from Boston, this thoroughly American beast is 15 feet tall and weighs 12,000 pounds.

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Kuratas: An app-powered battle mecha

When it comes to piloting the mechas, Japan's Kuratas has the early advantage. It seats one human pilot, but it doesn't require one. That's because all the mecha's functions can be accessed using a smartphone.

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MegaBot: A two-person mecha

The MegaBot Mk. II, meanwhile, requires a two-person team: one person to pilot the bot, and another to act as the gunner.

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Kuratas' weapon advantage

Kuratas has the edge in weapons systems, too -- at least in theory. Its twin-Gatling-gun arm can fire 6,000 BBs per minute once it's locked on to its target.

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Kuratas has an advanced aiming system, too

One of the oddest features of the Kuratas's Gatling guns is the automatic aiming system. The guns only fire when the pilot is smiling. Suidobashi Heavy Industry calls this the "smile shot."

The company's video pilot manual warns against smiling too much -- you'll cause an eerily psychopathic shooting spree.

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The MegaBot's missile launcher

The MegaBot Mk. II's has weapons also, but some of them -- like this arm-mounted missile launcher emplacement -- are still in the prototype stage.

That's probably for the best, though. Launching real missiles in combat would be pretty dangerous to spectators.

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Kuratas's LOHAS launcher

The LOHAS water-bottle launcher on the Kuratas is far less theoretical.

Fortunately for Team USA, the LOHAS launcher lacks the ability to rotate or pivot and is highly inaccurate. It also leaves its user pretty wet.

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Mk. II's paint bomb blasts

As for its non-theoretical weapons, MegaBot can fire 3-pound cannonballs made out of paint at speeds of over 130 MPH.

This weapon's goal is to blind its opponent and simulate damage on enemy mechas. Or, you know, cause significant amounts of real damage to a late-model automobile.

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Kuratas is pretty handy

Unlike its American counterpart, the Kuratas does not have weapons for hands. Instead, it has...actual hands.

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On the other (robotic) hand

Kuratas's other hand (seen here with a red paint job) is called the "Rainbow." It's not especially functional, as all it seems to do is flash different colors.

Still, it looks really cool.

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Preparing for battle

Team Japan appears to have the early advantage, but first appearances can be deceiving. This is because the first mecha battle won't use ranged weapons -- it will be a hand-to-robo-hand slugfest.

And besides, Team USA has a secret weapon...

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The most American bot ever

Behold: MegaBots' plans for an upgraded Mk. II. The company anticipates that this mecha will be five times faster and more powerful than the current prototype.

It will also have a star-spangled chainsaw. That sounds pretty sweet.

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Punch drunk immune

IHMC Robotics is designing the MegaBot's coming balance control upgrade. The new system, working in conjunction with the coming hydraulics upgrades, will help MegaBot stay upright while taking and delivering punches.

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How do you move a 12,000-pound robot?

Currently, the MegaBot Mk. II uses a set of industrial treads to get around. It has no suspension, and its top speed is only 2.5 mph.

Not great. But don't worry, the treads are getting a major upgrade too.

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Like a car, but better (and slower)

The Kuratas, meanwhile, trades treads for wheels. Its top speed is roughly 6 mph.

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Add military-grade suspension to the mix

Howe & Howe Technologies of Waterboro, Maine, is designing a combination static and active swept dogleg torsion bar suspension for the upgraded Mk. II.

The tech will boost the Mk. II's top speed and give it more stability over rough terrain.

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So who will win?

The upgraded MegaBot is still under construction. And we have yet to see the melee-fight-ready version of Kuratas.

But we expect that to change real soon. And when they do battle, we'll be right there in the front row. Under a tarp. Because, you know, paint bombs.

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