Headless robot skiers tackle slopes beyond the Olympics

Skiing isn't just for humans. Eight bizarre-looking robots competed in South Korea with their own version of downhill skiing.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
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TaekwonV takes a practice run down the slopes.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

The wild windy weather at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, may have forced some alpine skiing races to be postponed, but there are some very different competitors out on the slopes that aren't fazed by the chill. 

The Welli Hilli Park ski resort in South Korea hosted the Edge of Robot: Ski Robot Challenge this week, not too far from where the humans are doing their thing during the Winter Games. 

Eight teams competed to make it through a series of downhill gates with custom-built humanoid robots. Several of the robots appear to be headless, which is a bit disconcerting. 

Robo-skiing is not an official Olympic event, but the organizers are piggybacking on the worldwide publicity for the games as an opportunity to showcase South Korea's robotic innovations. 

Reuters says the robots had to stand on two legs, use skis and poles and be over 19.6 inches (50 centimeters) in height. The bots used cameras and sensors to navigate the red and blue flag gates. 

The TaekwonV robot from the Minirobot Corp. team won the race by successfully navigating five gates in a mere 18 seconds. TaekwonV is named in honor of the 1976 South Korean animated film "Robot Taekwon V." 

You can check out some earlier January test runs of the Minirobot entry, which shows the plucky bot crashing into gates and getting turned around. At least the human Olympians don't have to worry about losing their jobs to ski robots just yet.

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