Tiny Panasonic EVOLTA robots set to take on Ironman Triathlon
By Ben Coxworth
September 16, 2011
While the Energizer Bunny may get all the fame, Panasonic's "Mr. Evolta" robot actually gets out and does things. In 2008, powered by two of the company's AA EVOLTA alkaline batteries, the 17 centimeter (6.69 inch)-tall robot climbed up a 1,640 foot (500 meter) rope suspended in the Grand Canyon. The following year, pedaling a miniature tricycle, he completed the "24 Hours of Le Mans" endurance challenge. Last year, he took a leisurely 500-kilometer (311-mile) stroll along the highway from Tokyo to Kyoto. This year's challenge is a little different - there will be three EVOLTA robots, and they will be teaming up to complete the 230-kilometer (143-mile) Ironman Triathlon circuit in Hawaii.
The challenge will include 3.8 kilometers (2.36 miles) of swimming in the open ocean, followed by 180.2 kilometers (111.97 miles) of cycling, and 42.2 kilometers (26.22 miles) of running. According to the video at the bottom of this page, separate robots will perform each stage. This is somewhat at odds with the press release, which states that robot creator Tomotaka Takahashi has designed three suits for the EVOLTA robot.
In any case ... the swimming robot/suit, which Takahashi says will have the most difficult task, will be performing the front crawl while buoyed by front and rear pontoon-like devices. The cycling robot will be assisted by training (sorry, "stabilizing") wheels on its bike, while the running robot will be inside a rolling hamster wheel-like gizmo.
Each robot will be powered by a set of three rechargeable EVOLTA AA batteries. The event will begin on October 23rd, and the robots will have one week in which to complete the circuit. They will run continuously, day and night, except for battery recharging periods.