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Robots compete in their own Olympics ski tournament, capture our hearts

Robots compete in their own Olympics ski tournament, capture our hearts


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This year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang is working overtime to showcase Korean robotics technology, featuring robots to clean, guide visitors, drill through a wall to pass on the Olympic torch, and now, compete in ski tournaments.

In a tournament aptly called “Edge of Robot: Ski Robot Challenge,” eight robotics teams from research universities, institutes, and a private company competed for a $10,000 prize to see which robot could ski down the slopes and race to the finish line the fastest while avoiding obstacles.

The tournament took place at an 80-meter alpine skiing course at Welli Hilli Ski Resort, an hour away from the games in Pyeongchang. With record-low temperatures affecting robot functionality, many of the robots tumbled down through much of the course. Normally, this would have been devastating to watch with real athletes who have trained years for their big moments, but with robots donning child-sized outfits and skis, it was hilarious and endearing.

To qualify, robots had to fit the requirements of a humanoid robot, such as being able to stand on two legs and having joints resembling elbows and knees. They also had to be a minimum of 50 centimeters tall, which is probably why the little fella that won was so short. Taekwon V, named after a Gundam-like robot from the eponymous Korean children’s cartoon, was the smallest of all the robots at just 75 centimeters tall.

Here’s a video from its makers, MiniRobot Corp, that shows what the robot is seeing and how its camera sensors are set to specifically avoid the blue-and-red flagpoles:

The Facebook page for the event includes stats for each of the robots, like the fact that one of the robots, named Diana, was completed with the help of crowdfunding. Look through the contestants and choose your fighter, including stout boys like Taekwon V and big boys like Rudolph (both written in Korean):