The World’s First Robot Ski Olympics Was A Bit Of A Shambles, And We Loved It

Who doesn't love watching robots fall down a mountain?

If you’re anything like us and have developed an insatiable appetite for anything Winter Olympics related (we’ve become Luge experts overnight) then let us introduce you to an alternative sporting competition.

The world’s first robot ski tournament was held in Hoengseong, South Korea, yesterday approximately eight hours away from the real deal in PyeongChang.

Something, which is probably for the best as some of the robots turned out to be dangerously incapable of skiing in a straight line.

Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters

Eight teams from local Korean universities, and tech companies took part in the inaugural event with each designing a self-driving humanoid robot to slalom down the slopes without assistance.

In high winds - which have already postponed some of the human events, including the women’s giant slalom on day three and the men’s downhill and women’s snowboard slopestyle on Sunday - the robots lined up to compete.

Some crashed into the net fencing within seconds, others failed to navigate the flag poles and just slid from the top of the mountain to the bottom.

The Korea Herald

And only one prevailed.

Sitting in pole position (the podium was a bit lonely) the team from Mini Robot Corp successfully completed the slalom run. But one of the team did have to tackle the robot at the bottom to stop it running into the crowds.

Sam Lee, from the company, told the Korea Herald their secrets to skiing success: “We programmed the robot to imitate human movement by maneuvering 21 motors.

“It has cameras and sensors that can recognise the red and blue colours of the flag gates. Therefore it is able to avoid the flagpoles as it skis down the slope.”

We don’t think Mikaela Shiffrin has any competition to worry about here.


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