While Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini can get the door, it’s got nothing on this team of robot skiers, who were able to brave the slopes at Pyeongchang when conditions were deemed too dangerous for real Olympians.
The world’s first “Ski Robot Challenge,” organised by South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, saw eight robots from various universities, a research institute, and a private company, compete for a $10,000 prize in a downhill skiing event.
In the autonomous snow skiing event, it was Minirobot’s Taekwon V who scooped the gold medal, while the Korea Institute of Robot and Convergence’s SKIRO nabbed silver, with Kookmin University’s RoK-2 following up with the bronze.
Speaking to Reuters, Lee Sok-min from the Taekwon V team said, “I heard the Alpine skiing has been postponed again due to wind conditions. That’s a pity. Robots are doing fine here.”
Conditions for entry required that all robots needed to be able to stand on two legs that bent at the knees, use skis and poles, and measure more than 50cm in height. As well as this, the robots were kitted out with camera sensors allowing them to detect red and blue flags dotted on the slope and turn around them accordingly, which you can see in the video above.
While the event was arranged mainly to show off South Korea’s budding robotics market, the Ski Robot Challenge’s main organizer, Kim Dong-uk, is hopeful that one day robots will have an Olympic Games of their own, held alongside the human ones.
In which case, there’s plenty of time for robots and their handlers to get some training in. Boston Dynamics’ Handle and Atlas have some form in sprinting and jumping, Toyota’s more nimble T-HR3 may have an edge in gymnastics, though.