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Japan plans to hold Robot Olympics by 2020


 By Peter Lagosky

When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced plans to employ a government task force to triple the Japanese robotics industry, most people weren’t surprised by the news. After all, Japan has been a boon for robotics technology for decades now. What nobody expected was Abe’s intention to create the Robot Olympics by 2020.

Yes, the Olympic games with robots for athletes.

“I would like to gather all of the world’s robots and […] hold an Olympics where they compete in technical skills,” Abe said while touring robotic factories throughout Japan. The event, if it ever ends up materializing, will take place alongside the 2020 summer Olympics set to be held in Tokyo.

Robot competitions are nothing new. The annual Robogames hosts small-scale remote controlled and robotically-powered sports events; the DARPA Robotics Challenge features robots capable of using tools, climbing ladders and performing other tasks that can help humans upon  disaster; and in Switzerland, a group of investors will hold the Cybathlon in 2016, a Special Olympics featuring disabled athletes using robotically-powered assistive technology.

If the Robot Olympics does occur, it will have the potential to either showcase how capable robots are (and perhaps will incentivize further research into robotics), or it could very well demonstrate how incapable they are. For example, self-driving cars, which were unable to complete the test track at DARPA 2004, are now an emerging technology capable of driving on public roads.

A Japanese engineering firm is already interested in building a 60-foot moving replica Gundam robot by 2019. So even if Abe’s Robot Olympics doesn’t go through, this is only the tip of the innovation iceberg for Japanese robotics.

My name’s Peter and I’m a first generation Canadian from the United States living in Toronto. I have an Honours Specialization BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Western Ontario as well as a Certificate in Writing. In fall 2014, I am going on to study Advertising Copywriting at Humber College, where I will hopefully gain the rhetorical skills necessary to hijack your subconscious and persuade you to purchase things you don’t need. If this paragraph has caught your attention, you may enjoy my website, www.peterthewriter.com.

  • downwinder

    It might be safer for the robots than the athletes, they deal with radiation better..If I were an Olympic level athlete, my health would be my number 1 issue, the air borne and food borne radiation from Fukushima is way too high for any health conscious person to consider exposing themselfs too…Tepco and the government has lied right from the start, who would belive them now? A high quality gieger counter will need to be part of the uniforms, that’s sick…

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