What happens when Jay Leno pilots a $2.5 million giant fighting robot

Jay Leno pilots a $2.5 million giant fighting robot

On this week's episode of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," the late-night legend pilots a real-life, futuristic MegaBot and battles an oven. Frankly, the kitchen appliance never stood a chance.

The 15-foot, 15-ton robot fighter is equipped with weapons for hands. Plus, it's powered by a 430-horsepower Chevy V8 engine, making for the "most over-the-top use" of one Leno says he has ever seen.

"This is a classic example of, 'Absolute power corrupts absolutely,'" he says, before nearly striking himself in his robo-face with his robo-claw.

The $2.5 million MegaBot
CNBC | Jay Leno's Garage

"Hey, Jay, can you just hold off here for a second?" says MegaBot co-founder and backseat driver Matt Oehrlein. But it's too late. Absolute power has corrupted absolutely. Leno grabs an oven, shakes it like a schoolyard bully robbing a smaller kid of his lunch money and throws it down.

Then he bellows out an evil laugh fit for a Bond villain.

"If our country is ever attacked by an oven, boy, this is the machine you want to have," he says.

Jay Leno piloting the MegaBot
CNBC | Jay Leno's Garage

Mechanical engineer Gui Cavalcanti originally founded MegaBots alongside Oehrlein, an electrical engineer, and Andrew Stroup, a builder, in 2014, with the dream of making the kind of over-sized robot fighters you see in video games or films in which they befriend Shia LaBeouf.

"We're trying to blend Formula One and UFC," Cavalcanti tells Leno, who describes the MegaBot shop as "where really big dreams, and really big nerds, come to life."

Last year MegaBot's Eagle Prime battled the Japanese robot Kuratas, built by Suidobashi Heavy Industry, in a much-anticipated duel that some critics found ultimately underwhelming. "MegaBots is like if BattleBots took an Ambien," wrote Quartz.

MegaBot staff
CNBC | Jay Leno's Garage

So the fights may not yet meet the standards Americans have come to expect from fast-paced CGI-focused action thrillers and, indeed, the company says it's been going through some tough times. To kick off the second season of their YouTube show this month, the founders announced, "We ran out of money," aside from their last $200,000. That isn't much: The MegaBot Leno pilots cost $2.5 million alone. The company also apparently let go of some of its staff.

"Subscribe now," says Oehrlein in the video, "and over the next nine months you'll get to see either one of the most legendary comeback stories in start-up history play out, or you'll see me slowly and painfully acknowledging that there just isn't a sustainable business model for giant fighting robots."

You'd think if they began accepting cash for rides, they'd make a killing. Just look at how much fun Leno is having.

CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage" airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. EDT.

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Video by Richard Washington

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