You remember Mech Warfare from RoboGames: it's where people build walking robots, arm them with BB guns, and set them lose against each other in a destructible cityscape. The trick? The human pilot can't see their robot at all: the driving and shooting is all done through first-person cameras in the robots themselves, just like a video game. Except real. It's one of the most awesome things, you know, ever, and Mech Warfare needs your help building a bigger, better, and safer arena so that they can outfit their robots with even more dangerous weaponry.
If you aren't familiar Mech Warfare, here's a video showing how it all works:
As you can see, the interior of the arena is incredible, but the exterior walls are just a canvas tent, which doesn't offer much in the way of protection from CO2-powered BBs or flamethrowers or microrockets or laser cannons, which is why the robots haven't been armed with exciting things like this quite yet. With your help on Kickstarter, Mech Warfare wants to build a brand new arena out of lexan and aluminum to contain the excitement and explosions and offer a better view. The whole thing is non-profit and open source and should cost about $6,000, and once they have it up and running at the main event (RoboGames in San Francisco), they'll be able to send the new arena around the country so that regional Mech Warfare events can benefit from it as well.
Head on over to Kickstarter to check out the project, and if you like what you see, any donation over $25 will get a custom illustrated Mech Warfare poster as a reward.
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.