As competition for gold medals at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics heats up, another fierce battle has taken place at a nearby Korean ski field.
Unlike the Olympics, the Ski Robot Challenge does not test the peak of human performance; rather it serves as an initiative to showcase South Korea’s booming robotics industry.
Eight teams, from universities and private companies, entered skiing robots into the competition, with a US$10,000 prize up for grabs for the fastest bot to navigate its way around five flags on a short descent.
Each competing robot was required to be in ‘humanoid form’, meaning they needed two legs, knees and elbows.
Heads were optional.
Another robot heads down the course. Source: Reuters
They were also required to be at least 50cm tall and to run on an independent power system.
Despite robotics in South Korea being a major industry, the general standard of the robots wasn’t too high.
As the video below shows, several of the bots failed to navigate the turns and tumbled their way down the slopes.
The winning robot was TaekwonV from Minirobot Corp, which completed the course in an impressive 18 seconds.
Although the Ski Robot Challenge was held separately, other robots have featured in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Robot helpers, that can speak four different languages, have been set up in the Olympic Plaza in PyeongChang to help give directions to tourists.
Additionally, a total of 80 robot helpers have been used to automate various tasks, such as cleaning and carrying drinks for the crowds, at the games.
“I think in the future, robots will have their own Winter Games on the sidelines of the Olympics held by humans,” organiser of the Ski Robot Challenge, Kim Dong-Uk told Reuters.