Panasonic enters mini robots in Hawaii triathlon (w/ video)

September 16, 2011
The Panasonic Evolta robot, created by Tomotaka Takahashi, powers along in a pool during a press preview in Tokyo, on September 15.

A trio of small Japanese robots will be working together in the Ironman triathlon race in Hawaii next month in a show of their inner strength -- rechargeable batteries.

Consumer electronics maker Panasonic will use one set of three for the whole 2.4-mile (3.8-kilometre) swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run to power the "Evolta" robots made by creator Tomotaka Takahashi.

Panasonic hopes to reach the finish line in one week, or 168 hours, by recharging the set of batteries shared by the three robots as many times as necessary during the race.

The Hawaii triathlon will be the latest in a series of similar endurance campaigns to show off the strength of the Evolta line of batteries.

In the past, the company sent different Evolta robots to scale the , to ride a tiny in the Le Mans 24 hour race, and to walk 500 kilometres from Tokyo to the ancient city of Kyoto in western Japan.

The Ironman cycling and running robots are 23 and 25 centimetres (10 inches) high while the swimming one is 51 centimetres long.

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5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2011
At first I thought that the same set of battereis were going to power the bots for the entire race. That would've been quite astonishing. However, I see now that the batteries are going to be recharged "as many times as necessary". While it speaks well enough for their charge/recharge cycle, it's hardly newsworthy (and very hard to spot any sleight of hand). It's just an advertizing stunt.
not rated yet Sep 16, 2011
Aww, they are cute. Seriously, how long is it gonna take to make humanoid robots? It doesnt seem that hard with today's technology, with the power source being the biggest hurdle. All you need is to give the robot an ability to balance itself like a segway does, then just model them after us. I guess there is no real motivation to create autonomous humanoid robots right now.
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2011
krundoloss: Just try it! Buy an off-the-shelf humanoid and code some control loops for it to balance itself. It sounds easy in theory ("if it's falling this way, just move that way or something"). But you'll see that imagining something and making it real are quite different things! I know people who work on this and it's really, really hard. "Today's technology" is not an abstract problem-solver, but actually the brains of today's scientists. Either wait patiently for them to solve that problem for you, or join them :)

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