At the Olympics-2018 competitions in alpine skiing among robots

Published on February 14, 2018

At the Olympics-2018 competitions in alpine skiing among robots


    Robot Alexi (Alexi) confidently overcomes obstacles in the competitions on the downhill Ski Robot Challenge in Hwenson. Photo: Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters

    It turns out that not only the best athletes from all over the world are competing in the Winter Olympics in South Korea, but also ... robots! The organizers of the Olympic Games in South Korea invited developers of robotics to participate in the Ski Robot Challenge downhill competition. Eight teams from universities, institutes and private companies expressed a desire to compete for the top prize of $ 10,000, writes Korea JoongAng Daily. While live athletes are suffering due to the transfer of competition due to bad weather conditions, strong wind and frost is not an obstacle to robots. Literally on the same day, when the alpine skiing competition was postponed in Pyeongchang, in the neighboring Hwenson the race of robots passed without problems. These are the first competitions of this kind in the world.

    So far, these guys are not as deft and coordinated as protein athletes. The robots are constantly moving in a sliding stop (the socks are close together, the backs are separated), but we will be indulgent to them. Metal cars make their first steps on skis. In addition, past competitions and models of Boston Dynamics have shown that the humanoid bipedal format is not the most successful for robots. They move much more confidently on the four limbs. In this format, they will give odds to a person both in speed of running, and in height of jumps, and in many other physical exercises. Unless it will be difficult to compete in that unique discipline where the person surpasses all animals.

    Robot racing took place in the ski resort Welli Hilli Park Ski Resort in Hvenson, an hour west of Pyeongchang, where the main Olympic competitions take place. Even the President of the International Olympic Committee arrived at the opening of the robotics competition, who shook hands with one of the robots ( photo ).

    The video shows how robot Alexy (Alexi) confidently overcomes obstacles on the slope. However, after the finish, Alexy had to be stopped by a hard joint, because he himself does not know how to brake with a standard 90 degree turn of the skis.


    Under the terms of the competition, in the downhill could participate robots that meet the following requirements:

    • height not less than 50 cm (in reality, all contestants had a height of from 75 to 160 cm);
    • ability to stand on two legs;
    • independent power supply system;
    • use only skis and poles for movement;
    • the presence of joints for bending the arms in the elbows and the legs in the knees.


    Training rental robot TiBo before the competition. Photo: Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters.

    As in this high-speed slalom, flags were placed along the entire length of the course, which need to bend around during the descent, moving along the most optimal path. The winner was determined by points for the number of successfully bypassed flags and by the fastest time. However, not all robots reached the finish line.


    Photo: Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters

    In technologically advanced South Korea, robots could be found not only at competitions, but also in everyday life. For example, in the main press center of Pyeongchang, such a carpet cleaner robot was seen. As you can see, next to the robot is a cleaner-man with an ordinary vacuum cleaner. He probably does a lighter job and vacuums the rest of the territory and hard-to-reach corners.


    Photo: Phil Noble / Reuters

    At the banquet for the press, there was another robot who delivered free drinks to the guests in the hall. According to the official data of the organizers, 85 robots of 11 types work in the Olympic Village, including 20 robots-fish swimming in the aquarium (for aesthetic purposes), airport translation robots, projectors robots, the Olympic Games mascot who plays music and willingly with all photographed. There is also a robot painter who can paint almost any surface at a height of up to 20 meters with any shade from a palette of 10 million colors.

    Surely at the next summer Olympics in 2020 in Tokyo, the Japanese will try to surpass the achievements of their neighbors in robotics, here is a matter of honor.

    By the way, in the Korean industry, according to statistics for 2015, 531 robots per 10,000 workers are used. By this indicator, South Korea surpasses Singapore (398 robots per 10,000 people), Japan (305), Germany (301) and Russia (1).