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Archive for February 24, 2011

I, For One, Welcome Our Marathon-running Robot Overlords

February 24, 2011 1 comment

It has been a bad couple of weeks for humans.

With Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter getting defeated quite easily by IBM’s supercomputer ‘Watson‘ at a game of ‘Jeopardy!’, mankind is on the ropes to robots.

Undated handout photo of Jeopardy! contestants Ken Jennings (second from left) and Brad Rutter (right) — shown with host Alex Trebek — as they prepare to play the supercomputer Watson.

Photograph by: Jeopardy Productions, Inc., Handout

Now, robots are not only starting to make ground against humans in games of intellect, but also in physical activity.

The first ever robot marathon, called the Robomarafull event, has kicked off today in Osaka, Japan. The race contestants are 5 knee-high “athletes” which will traverse the full 26 miles (42 km) of a marathon on an indoor track.

Finishing the race will involve circling the track 423 times and is expected to take about 4 days. Since the current world record for running a marathon is 2 hours, 3 minutes and 39 seconds for a (human) male and 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds for a (human) female, the robots still have a ways to go.

The rules of the race allow robot operators to change the motors and batteries of their contestants, but they cannot help the robot get back on its feet if it falls.

Since the race is going to take 4 days, it’s not so much about speed but endurance. As such, it is always important to train and stretch…