A key piece in the MegaBots vs. Kuratas robot fight comes from Minnesota

A key piece of the mech warrior is the product of a Minnesota company.
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The weaponry is impressive. It's also absurd.

Eagle Prime, made by the California-based MegaBots, stands 16 feet tall and weighs 12,000 pounds, requiring 430 horsepower to move around on its two tracks. The mech is operated by a pilot seated in a cockpit, and is able to hurl 3-pound projectiles at a speed of 130 mph. 

At the end of its right arm, a large claw can land punches or grab opponents as the bot swings around at the hips. Its other arm features an American-themed chainsaw, one of multiple swappable weapons.

On Tuesday night, this USA-made battle mech will take on a similar mechanical monstrosity – Japan's Kuratas mech – in a Twitch streamed event, for what MegaBots is calling "nation-on-nation robot combat."

Related:
MegaBots vs. Kuratas fight: How to watch a stream of the Giant Robot Duel

And one of the key pieces of technology that makes Eagle Prime combat ready is a footlong, cylindrical item made by a Minnesota company.

Eagle Prime needs 360 degrees of motion

You won't be able to see this key piece of technology – it's protected, hidden behind outer layers. But it's there.

"It's going to be located right where the hips are," explained Jeremy Weigel with Dynamic Sealing Technologies Inc. "It's going to be right underneath where the pilots sit, and right above the hips. .. That center point, that pivot point."

Weigel is a sales engineer with Dynamic Sealing, which is based in Andover. The 15-year-old company manufactures machine parts that let fluids pass through a joint that needs to rotate.

And that's exactly what MegaBots was seeking for Eagle Prime.

"Basically, the first generation MegaBot … didn’t have full functionality to pivot its hips 360 degrees," Weigel said. They needed a way to get hydraulic fluid from the pumps along the tracks at the bottom, up into the torso area, while having that full range of motion.

So an engineer with MegaBots that had previously done business with Dynamic Sealing reached out to the Minnesota company in early 2016, explaining their need for the part (which is called a rotary union).

"The track base, that's how the robot moves around, that’s where hydraulic pumps are located," explained Chris Huntress, graphic design communications specialist with DSTI. "They're stored down there. So then you have hydraulic lines running up into the torso, and that’s where our rotary union is located."

DSTI (which has products being used in outer space, and on the ocean floor) had a stock rotary union that worked pretty well for MegaBots, Weigel said.

It's just under 13 inches long, and about 6 1/2 inches across. So it's not a physically huge part, but it's key to letting Eagle Prime do what it needs to do.

"If they didn't have this rotary joint in there, you can imagine [what would happen to] the hoses trying to turn," Huntress said. "And as the robot's torso rotates, these hoses are going to fail due to the twisting and kinking." 

That would leave the mech useless, with no upper body movement, he explained.

They've got "full confidence" their rotary union is going to perform well in the duel, with no concern about it functioning as intended, Weigel said. 

"Now taking another MegaBot and hitting a rotary union point blank?" he added, "who knows what's going to happen?"

Huntress wanted to stress they're not worried about a product failure though, even in the event of an unlikely hit.

The rest of Eagle Prime, especially the outside armor, will probably take quite a beating when it battles another mech.

But to repeat Weigel's point: Who knows what's going to happen? It's not like we've seen real-life giant robot fights before.

We'll find out Tuesday night.

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