Robot lines up for triathlon

A new robot from Japanese researchers will test its skills against the world's top triathletes.

Hawaii's Ironman Triathlon course has humbled thousands of men and women over the years, but Japanese researchers are curious to see if their newest robot is up to the challenge.

The developers behind Panasonic's Evolta have decided to take their robotic device out of the laboratory and into the wild. According to TG Daily, the miniature robot has already tried its hand navigating the walls of the Grand Canyon and riding around racetracks in Le Mans, France. But by taking on one of the world's most notoriously grueling triathlon courses, company officials know their creation has a tough task ahead of it.

"This is a very tough course for a sportsman, but I think it is worth a challenge," developer, Tomotaka Takahashi, told the news providers. "The robot will encounter a lot of hardships on its way, but I hope it will overcome them all and succeed in the end."

The Ironman course requires competitors to swim 2.4 miles and bike 112 miles before completing a 26.2 mile run. According to the event website, this legendary endurance challenge began as a friendly competition between Navy SEALs before evolving into one of the world's most recognizable sporting events. But although Evolta will be required to complete the same course, a few considerations have been taken into consideration to accommodate the bot.

As reported by Reuters, Evolta is just one-tenth the size of an adult human. To account for this inherent disadvantage, developers are giving their device one full week to complete the mission. The robot will also have a distinct advantage over human counterparts – it has three variable body configurations that will be altered throughout the competition.

"I had to think of the ways to make it waterproof and protect it from mold as much as possible," Takashi told the news outlet.

Although some robotic creations have difficulty translating their utility outside of the laboratory, the 20-inch tall device should be a versatile and reliable addition to the consumer electronics marketplace. According to Reuters, the battery pack can be recharged successfully up to 1,800 times, and Evolta is set to go on sale in Japan at the end of October.

It will be interesting to see how customers respond to this revelation in robotics. But, as is often the case, end-users may envision and create applications for the robot that developers could never have originally imagined.

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