Usain Bolt may well be the fastest man on the planet, but Usain Volt is hoping to become the fastest robot.
Volt is competing in the annual RoboWorld Cup event, this year taking place at the University of Bristol in south-west England. The competition brings together the fastest, strongest, smartest robots from around the world.
Organized by the Federation of International Robotics Association, the competition is a kind of Olympics for robots, with events such as soccer, basketball and weightlifting pushing the mechanical creations to the limit.
In the weightlifting, the nuts and bolts will surely be creaking under the strain as competitors attempt to beat the current world record of 89 DVDs. According to organizers, some robots have, in training, been hoisting off the ground as many as 100 DVDs; that’s pretty impressive (for a small robot). Whether they can perform the same feat on competition day is, of course, another matter.
A team from Plymouth University is hoping that its super-speedy creation, nicknamed Usain Volt, will be able to take first prize in the three-meter sprint race. Robots also have a chance to take part in the marathon, with runners battling it out over a 42-meter – rather than a 42 kilometer – course.
While some robots competing at the event are built from scratch, others have been bought from stores before undergoing alterations. The golden rule for the 27 teams entering the RoboWorld Cup is that the robots must be autonomous.
The University of Bristol’s Dr Guido Herrmann described the competition as “a fantastic opportunity for the public to see just what autonomous robots are capable of.” He added that he hoped the occasion would inspire children to learn more about robots and what they’re capable of.
It’s also a great opportunity for robotics fans to meet and share information. “We come together and exchange technology and skills, and see the improvements each team has made [in the past year],” one team member told Independent Television.
The RoboWorld Cup began in 1996 and has grown in popularity over the years, especially with engineering students and organizations.