The Olympics Aren’t Just For Humans Anymore

From a 17-year-old American gold medalist to Russia’s banishment from the competition, there are a lot of firsts at this year’s Winter Olympic Games.

Add to that list robots hitting the slopes in a slalom-style competition.

All words we never thought would (or could) be strung together in one sentence.

For the first time ever, South Korea hosted the “Edge of Robot: Ski Robot challenge” at the Welli Hilli ski resort, an hour west of Pyeongchang.

Humanoids of all shapes and sizes made their way down the 80-meter (260-foot) alpine skiing course, admittedly some better than others.

Eight teams from universities, institutes, and a private company competed for the $10,000 prize.

Competing robots had to meet certain requirements to be eligible. For starters, they all had to be classified as a humanoid robot: each having to stand on two “legs” with elbows and knees complete with humanistic “joints”. Each contender was required to have an independent power system, and use skis, poles, and clothes that made them look like adorably bundled human children. All competitors had to be more than 50 centimeters (20 inches) in height.

The smallest among them, Taekwon V, measured in at a whopping 75 centimeters (30 inches) tall. Here’s the fluid little bugger who, like other robots, used its camera sensors to detect and dodge red and blue flagpoles.

Like in the “real” Olympics, teams were awarded points based on the number of poles avoided and time taken to reach the finish line.

As humans braced the record low temperatures, it turns out robots were equally affected. The cold and wind impaired some robots’ functionality, sending them tumbling down the beginners hill in comical robotic fails.

The race wasn’t an official Olympic competition, but it gave South Korea a chance to show off its love of robotic technology to the world. Robots are everywhere at the PyeongChang Olympic games: 85 robots do everything from translating languages to serving post-competition cocktails.

Uhm, can we get one of those?

And let’s be real: South Korea really likes robots. They’ve even been called an “ideal breeding ground” for robots if, you know, robots could do that sort of thing.

Take this robotic fish, for example.