We’re less than two months away from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea, and the Olympic torch has been making its way across the country through the hands of athletes, boy-band members, and proud residents. On day 41 of the Olympic Torch Relay, HUBO the humanoid robot had the honor of passing the torch at its birthplace of the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon. It walked about 500 feet to a wooden wall (painted to look like bricks), used a drill to cut a hole, then punched through it with the torch to pass it along to its creator, Professor Oh Jun-ho.
There are a couple of stand-out moments from the event which you can see in the video above from KBS News. First, HUBO gives Professor Dennis Hong, founding director of the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at UCLA, a ride to the spot where they’ll pass the torch. He chuckles and says the ride was pretty bumpy, but it’s fine since HUBO’s main purpose is for rescue operations. Standing at 47 inches tall and capable of walking 65 paces per minute, HUBO is one of the 85 robots that the Pyeongchang Olympics is utilizing to assist with security, as well as information services, mural-painting, and cleaning.
It takes the flame from Professor Hong and walks to the wall and stumbles at first, but is picked up again by handlers. It then successfully drills through the wall to the “oohs” and “ahhs” of the crowd, and passes the torch safely to his robot dad, father of the first humanoid robot in Korea.
But the demonstration didn’t end here. Professor Oh then handed the flame over to a cute middle-schooler and aspiring scientist in KAIST’s latest debut, the FX-2 human-operated robot. This thing is massive: it’s over 8-feet tall and weighs over 600 pounds.
All-in-all, the event was a feel-good ceremony to show off South Korea’s technological advancements, and as a Korean, I am here for it. Just one question though, where can I get HUBO’s cute Olympic beanie with the orange pom-pom? Please let me know.