News & Politics

Humanoid Robot Carries Olympic Torch

A DRC-Hubo robot holds an Olympic torch to be lit by Dr. Dennis Hong, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, during the Olympic Torch Relay in Daejeon, South Korea, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (Yang Young-suk/Yonhap via AP)

The robots are out to get us.

Well, not yet, anyway. However, they’re becoming more and more a part of everyday life. We’re hearing about robots doing things that we probably wouldn’t have expected even a year ago.

For example, it’s unlikely anyone expected a humanoid robot to run with the Olympic torch, but it happened.

A robot built and designed by the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology named DRC-HUBO took hold of the torch, then carried it for 160 kilometers, or just under 100 miles.

At the end of its run, HUBO reenacted a moment from its 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge win — it busted through a wall to hand the torch off to Professor Oh Jun-ho. Said Oh: “Through the robots’ participation in the Olympic Torch relay, we were able to show the world how far Korea’s robotics industry has developed, and show people the different ways that robots could be used in the near future.”

HUBO wasn’t the only bot carrying a torch, either. Professor Oh’s own robot design — which allows a person to ride along while driving the bot — also carried the torch. Called FX-2, it was driven by 14-year-old Lee Jeong-jae.

These tech achievements are amazing, but these robots are still, ultimately, novelties. They’re expensive toys, rarely practical or economical for any purpose beyond these demonstrations where they delight crowds.

But they are proof that the concepts are sound, that a bipedal humanoid robot can be operational. This, coupled with the fascinating work from companies like Boston Dynamics, indicates that we’re getting closer to the day when robots really could be a useful part of our everyday life.

Also, some of this accelerating development is thanks to the market demand for advancements in the sexbot industry.

These bots are a far cry from the manufacturing bots you see in auto plants and on other assembly lines. Soon, we may see them shopping for us, cooking our food, and doing other chores. (It’s not like they don’t already vacuum for a lot of us.). It may not be all that long before the future is really and truly here.