While many Alpine events at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics struggle against high winds there were no such problems for a group of robots which took to the slopes in nearby Dunnae.
Robots of all shapes and sizes took their turns skiing, some tumbling, down a course in Welli Hilli ski resort, an hour’s drive west of Pyeongchang.
The organiser of the Ski Robot Challenge, Kim Dong-Uk noted, “Our robots cannot race in the Olympics so we organised this race during the Olympic period so that we can show South Korea’s robotic technology to the world.”
Eight teams – including universities, institutes and a private company – all vied for the $10,000 prize in what organisers dubbed the first ever robot skiing competition.
The robot competitors feature camera sensors taught to avoid blue and red, the colours of the flagpoles dotting the slope.
A spectator at the event, Son Ki-Ryong, was thrilled by the efforts of the robots, “I’m amazed that the robots recognised the flags as they skied down.”
The TAEKWAN-V team took home the honours with teams awarded points not only for the speed in which the robot completes the course, but also the number of flagpoles it weaved past.
The winner of the Ski Robot Challenge, Lee Sok-Min, could not hide his delight, “I heard that the alpine skiing has been postponed again due to windy conditions, and that’s a pity, I think.”
All entrants measured above 50 centimetres in height, stood on two ‘legs’, had joints resembling elbows and knees, an independent power system and used ski plates and poles.