Somerville’s ‘MegaBot’ Heads to New York Comic Con

This massive missile-shooting machine is just the beginning for the engineers who designed it.
Photo by Steve Annear

Photo by Steve Annear

People’s jaws dropped as they slowly drove by Somerville’s Artisan’s Asylum Wednesday morning, where a 13-foot-tall metal robot that looked like something out of a science fiction film sat parked on a trailer, ready to head to New York.

Called a MegaBot, the brainchild of designers and engineers at the workspace in Somerville, the machine can shoot projectiles the length of a football field at around 120 miles per hour from its left arm, and its right arm has full mobility, equipped with a cannon.

“Having the MegaBot aim its cannon at you is a heart-stopping experience,” said Gui Cavalcanti, one of the robot’s designers, and cofounder of MegaBots, Inc. “Even if you know it’s not loaded, here’s this gigantic, armored humanoid that’s almost three times taller than you are, smoothly and quietly lining up its sights on you—it’s downright terrifying.”

Cavalcanti and the team behind the MegaBot—Andrew Stroup and Matt Oehrlein—are taking the humanoid to New York Comic Con for the weekend, one of the largest conventions of its kind in the country, where they will do a live demo.

Right now, the MegaBot consists of  a torso and two arms. One arm is equipped with 20 PVC pipes that can shoot foam-based, custom-made projectiles that are filled with a paint-like substance and explode on impact. The right arm has one cannon built into it that can launch oversized paint balls. The cockpit of the MegaBot, blocked off by a caged front, can fit two people inside; one person steers the robot with the onboard controls, while the other fires the cannons.

The robot in its current form stands at 13-feet-tall, due to the height restrictions when packing it on the trailer to ship it to New York. When it’s complete, the team will add an additional two feet to the machine, they said.

Although they may not be able to fire the missiles inside the venue this weekend, they will still activate the weaponry by possibly filling the cannons with confetti and blasting the crowd.

“We’ll see,” said Stroup.

The group of engineers already tested out the robot in the field, firing the projectiles from the turret in rapid succession. The Comic Con debut will mark the MegaBot’s first public appearance.

“Comic Con is the perfect place to introduce the world to MegaBots,” said Stroup. “We are going to be right next to the Marvel display, so a lot of people will get to see it.”

When they get back from the event, MegaBots, Inc. will launch a Kickstarter campaign so they can build out the robot and design its legs, allowing it further mobility so it can walk around. From there, they plan on building additional robots so that the machines can battle one another, they said.



Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com