Competition at the 23rd Olympic Winter Games is underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Hundreds of athletes have already been in action for nearly two days. But the athletes aren’t the only ones hard at work.
South Korea is a world leader in robotics. The country is using the Olympics as a platform to showcase those robotics skills. A total of 85 robots will be “volunteering” during the games to assist athletes, clean venues, deliver drinks, draw murals, provide directions and more.
We want to wish all the athletes and robots good luck! There’s a lot riding on their performance over the next couple weeks. Here is a look at 12 robots working at the 2018 Olympics.
KAIST HUBO Lights Olympic Torch
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology’s (KAIST) HUBO robot, which won the 2015 DARPA robot challenge, was the first robot involved with the 2018 Olympics.
On Dec. 11, the humanoid robot helped carry the Olympic torch. HUBO arrived in a self-driving vehicle, cut through a brick wall, and handed the torch to its creator, Oh Jun-ho, a professor of mechanical engineering at KAIST.
HUBO passed the Olympic torch to FX-2, an eight-foot-tall human-operated robot. The FX-2 is massive, weighing more than 600 pounds. Oh designed the FX-2 to make humans stronger or provide mobility to disable people.
Hyundai and KT will be demoing their co-developed 5G, autonomous buses. In partnership with Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the buses will be moving guests around the city’s stadiums, slopes and rinks.
Human athletes aren’t the only ones vying for gold in South Korea. That’s right, robots are competing in the world’s first robot ski tournament on Feb. 11 at the Welli Hill Park ski resort in Hoengseong County near PyeongChang.
Eight teams from local universities developed two-legged humanoid robots that wear skis. Each robot must be 20 incessantly tall from their feet to shoulders, and they’re all equipped with sensors and deep learning algorithms that allow them to autonomously ski down the slope – or try, at least.
Each team has three opportunities to ski down the slope. This could be more entertaining than all the falls at the DARPA challenge.
Soohorang, a white tiger and the official mascot of the 2018 Olympics, will be present in robot form, too. The Soohorang robots will dance, offer translation and guidance services, and snap commemorative photos for fans.
Software company Hancom partnered with robot maker FutureRobot to develop these robots. Using Hancom’s GenieTalk translation software, the robots can speak in nine languages to provide assistance to visitors at different Olympic venues.
LG Airport Guide Robots
LG actually started testing its Guide Robots at South Korea’s Incheon International Airport in July 2017. The Airport Guide Robot understand the four most popular languages spoken at the airport – Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese and connects to the airport’s central server to provide information about boarding times, restaurants, shops and more.
LG Cleaning Robots
While LG’s Airport Guide Robots are sharing information with travelers, the company’s cleaning robots are keep the airport nice and clean. The robot vacuums clean about 900 square meters per hour and will avoid humans while cleaning. The robots autonomously navigate using cameras and LIDAR.
— Alessandro Poggi (@alespoggi) February 4, 2018
FutureRobot also created a robot that paint murals based on topics such as gold medal winners. The robot’s arms can reach about 65 feet high and can mix more than 1,000 colors. It uses a dot-matrix printer to create the images.
Schools of robotic fish will entertain spectators at the Pyeongchang Olympic Plaza and the International Broadcast Center. The fish will swim in underwater formations to entertain passersby.
These robotic fish resemble goldfish and can swim at depths of up to 2 meters, determining their position thanks to depth and pressure sensors.
Drink Delivery Robots
Beverage service robots will also be placed throughout Olympic venues. With a maximum load of about 11 lbs, the robots can move in a complex indoor evironment to deliver drinks to people.
— jeffmetcalfe (@jeffmetcalfe) February 8, 2018
These tiny robots will be roaming around playing Korean music while projecting information onto the floor in front of them. The images range from photos of the Korean landscape to a weather forecast to the day’s event schedule.
Security is always a priority at any Olympic Games, but this year it’s especially top of mind due to the close proximity to North Korea. And security personnel aren’t just concerned about events on the ground, they’re also on the lookout for suspicious drones.
To counteract dangers from above, part of the safety precautions include drone-catching drones that cast nets over any suspicious unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones are also expected to be used to broadcast content and entertain crowds.