Robot volunteers to assist at Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Mascots. Source: Sagase48/Shutterstock

SOUTH Korea recently announced that 85 robot helpers will be available to assist visitors at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang county.

The robot volunteers will be assigned to various venues during the Winter Olympic Games from Feb 9 to 25. The bots will be available in stadiums and airports, where they will give travellers directions, tourist information and boarding advice in Korean, English, Mandarin and Japanese.

The LG-designed “Airport Guide Robot” is part of an initiative by the Trade, Industry and Energy Ministry to use the Winter Olympics as a platform to showcase the country’s recent technological developments.

A total of 11 types of robots will feature in the international sporting event, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the globe. The most notable of these is HUBO – a walking humanoid robot designed by engineer and professor, Oh Jun-Ho.

HUBO carries the Olympic torch at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, South Korea, on Dec 11, 2017. Source: Yang Young-seok/Yonhap via Reuters

Initially developed in 2004 to assist in rescue operations, HUBO was given the honourable task of carrying the Olympic torch to demonstrate its abilities. The machine walked 500 ft from its birthplace – the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology – to pass the torch on to its creator.

It wasn’t a completely flawless quest as HUBO stumbled a few times, having to be picked up by assistants, before ultimately drilling a hole through a wall to give the professor the torch.

Oh spoke proudly of his creation at the event:

“Through the robot’s participation in the relay, we were able to show people how far (South) Korea’s robotics industry has developed and show people the different ways that robots can be used in the near future.”

Numerous automated vacuum cleaners and delivery robots will also be helping out at the event while painting robots will travel around the stadium and create murals on the walls. Fishing robots will also be featured; however, it is currently unknown how their role will fit into the games.

South Korea’s display will undoubtedly show that the country can compete with top tech rivals, such as Japan, who are at the forefront of robotic advancements. Japan hopes to have 3D sensory systems at Tokyo 2020, which can measure the performance of gymnasts, and assign them with accurate scores. The artificial intelligence is due to be unveiled at the games, by its developers Fujitsu. A “robot village” has also been planned to aid visitors.