Robots Hold Own Olympics in Ski Challenge

REUTERS/Kim Hong-JiA robot takes part in the Ski Robot Challenge at a ski resort in Hoenseong, South Korea, February 12, 2018.

With the 2018 Winter Olympics well underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the country hosted another Ski Challenge just an hour away — but this time, it is for robots.

Eight robots competed at the Ski Robot Challenge in Hoengseong County, courtesy of various universities, institutions, and companies that participated in the event.

According to the rules, participating robots must stand at least 50 centimeters (19.6 inches) tall, could stand on their own two legs, and able to bend their elbows and knees just like real skiers do. The robots should also have their own power system and should be capable of using skis and poles.

Having a head is not a requirement, which was why some participants looked disconcerting as they skied headless through a series of downhill gates. Not all robots reached the end line, too. The humanoids were equipped with cameras and sensors so they could find the positions of the red and blue flag gates as well as find their way to the finish line.

The robots received points for every pole avoided and for the amount of time they took to reach the finish line. The winning team, Minirobot Corp., received $10,000 after its robot successfully navigated five gates in 18 seconds. Their robot was named Taekwon V, as a tribute to the 1976 South Korean animated film "Robot Taekwon V."

The robot perfectly surpassed the adverse weather that postponed a few games in Pyeongchang. "I heard the Alpine skiing has been postponed again due to wind conditions," said Minirobot Corp. member Lee Sok-min. "That's a pity. Robots are doing fine here."

The Robot Ski Challenge is not an official Olympic event, but South Korea is hoping that holding it so near Pyeongchang will help promote the company's advanced robotic technology. Further attempt at that can be seen at the event grounds itself, where an Olympic branded robot serves as a carpet cleaner at the events center in Pyeongchang.