This past weekend’s marathon in Osaka was a widow-maker for its contestants. Assuming, of course, that robots have widows. Of the five contestants competing in Vstone’s first full scale marathon for miniature bipedal bots, only two managed to finish in the time alloted. Oh but what a finish! The Robovie-PC beat the Robovie PC Lite by just one second. One second! The Robovie-PC, maintained by Vstone’s home team, ran the entire race autonomously, as did the PC-Lite which was managed by the Center for Robotics Team. The two successful robots celebrated their nearly simultaneous finish by waving to the onlooking crowd. We’ve got a brief summary video, and lots of great pictures of the “Robomara Full” for you below. Check them out. Hopefully the international press that this race has garnered will encourage Vstone to make the marathon a regular (and open invitation) event in the future.
The official standings at the end of the race were as follows:
Vstone – 1st Place with a time of 54 hours 57 minutes and 50 seconds.
Center for Robotics Team – 2nd place with a time of 54 hours 57 minutes and 51 seconds.
Osaka Institute of Technology Team A – 3rd place with a total distance traveled of 33.795 kilometers (about 337 laps).
Job Creation Team – 4th place with a total distance traveled of 17.723 kilometers (about 177 laps).
Osaka Institute of Technology Team B – 5th place with a total distance traveled of just 224 meters (about two laps). Team B’s poor showing was officially described on the Robomara Full website as follows: “A retirement of sorrow. Aim for the opportunity to revenge!” – Hilarious.
After 82 hours of competition, Vstone called the race with two robots still left on the track. The 40% finish rate demonstrates what the race set out to prove – that winning the 42.2 km (26.2 miles) would be a test of resilience as much as it was a measure of speed. Robots were required to pick themselves up after falling, and teams could only replace worn or damaged parts, not the entire robot itself. Osaka Team B had to quit before it even made three laps.
The Robomara Full was clearly a Vstone dominated event, with a heavy focus on local semi-professional teams. Robovie-PC and Robovie-PC Lite are both manufactured by Vstone and all the groups were from the Osaka area (if not from Vstone itself). The mixed showing of Osaka Institute of Technology suggests that student-run teams are perhaps not quite up to the challenge, but I’m hoping that Vstone chooses to expand the scope of the event in the future. As I stated in my original coverage of the marathon (back when I thought it would be open invitation) we need an international robot competition that focuses on endurance. An open marathon that allows teams from all over the world to strive for long running success is just the thing to inspire the next generation of engineers to create robots that can serve humanity in the day to day grind of our existence. So congratulations to Robovie-PC and PC-Lite. Way to hang in there, bots. Now get bigger, get stronger, and get faster. We have thousands of hospitals, nursing homes, and houses that could use your help.
[image credits: Vstone’s Robomara Full official site]