Most competitors shudder when they think about the Hawaiian Ironman. However, Evolta, a tiny robot from the imagination of Panasonic’s Tomotaka Takahashi, is poised to be the first machine to complete an Ironman Triathlon this October 24th in Hawaii.
Coming in at a height of six inches, at just one-tenth the size of the average human male, Evolta is being allowed ten times the amount of time most humans are allowed to complete the race. Takahashi figured that since the robot was one-tenth the size of a grown man, “…[T]hat it would take it 10 times more time [to finish the race]” Most people complete the 142-mile course in 16-17 hours, with Evolta being allowed approximately 168 hours. While everyone is aware of the difficulty of completing an Ironman, the Hawaiian event is particularly notable in the Ironman community as one of the world’s most difficult courses. The race features a grueling 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike race, and a 26-mile run.
“The robot will encounter a lot of hardships on its way, but I hope it will overcome them all and succeed in the end,” Takahashi said of Evolta. Evolta will come equipped with three different bodies that allow it to swim, cycle, and run. Of the three bodies, the 20- inch high swimming body presented special challenges, as it was mounted on a curved, fin-like blade with its arms stretched out. “I had to think of ways to make it water-proof and protect it from as much mold as possible,” Takahashi added.
But, there’s something Evolta will come equipped with that humans do not have: 3 AA-sized batteries, seated on the back of the robot, that can be charged up to 1,800 times with a recharge pad. Though the Evolta will have to take advantage of this recharge pad and will not really be competitive with any of the humans in this event, the whole point of Evolta entering the Ironman is to market the endurance and effectiveness of Panasonic’s alkaline batteries.
Evolta is not remote controlled, but does not navigate totally via pathfinding either. It appears as though he will follow some sort of transmitter orb or wand that someone will hold in front of him for the duration of the course, so at least the little guy won’t find himself too lonely.
Besides scaling 1,739 feet up the side of the Grand Canyon, Evolta has also completed the 24-hour endurance race called Le Mans (held near the town of Le Mans, France), and walked nearly 310 miles from Tokyo to Kyoto.