The 2020 Summer Olympics are still a long way away, but Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is already looking to improve on the festivities. His idea is to hold an Olympic style event as part of the international athletic competition—only this event is specifically for robots.
“I would like to gather all of the world’s robots and aim to hold an Olympics where they compete in technical skills,” Abe said. “We want to make robots a major pillar of our economic growth strategy.” And we think it’s about time!
As IEEE Spectrum points out, there are already a ton of robotic competitions around the world, including the RoboCup (which took place in Brazil last week) the RoboGames, and of course the DARPA Robotics Challenge. Competitions like these events spur innovation—and there’s usually research grants to the lucky winners. All of these events are fantastic, but a flagship event like a worldwide robot Olympics would be something special.
And there’re more robotics competitions on the horizon to be sure. Switzerland will be holding the first ever Cybathlon in 2016 to celebrate the achievements of bionic athletes. Events like the Cybathlon and DARPA and all the other worldwide robotics’ competitions are sure to grab the attention of the worldwide community.
Japan has long been the robotics capitol of the world, and an event like this could not be a bigger boost to their economy. According to The Daily Dot, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant incident took a heavy toll on Japan. Since events like the DARPA competition a specifically designed to test a robot’s ability to work as a first responder in disaster stricken areas, the Fukushima incident likely increased the Japanese government’s interest in perfecting robots that can serve as invincible first responders.
Humanitarian benefits aside, advanced robotic research and development would be a huge boom to Japan’s economy. In his visits to the robot production facilities, Abe discussed the economic benefits that robotics production would lead to. “We would like to set up a council on making a robotic revolution a reality in order to aid Japan’s growth,” he said.
We think an event like this would be great to introduce the world to what the robots of today can achieve and what those achievements can lead to. Once you develop a robot to be faster, stronger, and more skilled at doing tasks—as we see in the human Olympics—you can turn around and use those advancements in other areas of production and design. The possibilities that will come out of this competition could be endless!
It’s such a pleasure to live in the technological revolution of today, don’t you think? Pretty soon, we may be seeing real live cyborgs and androids competing right alongside Olympic athletes. We can’t wait!
Photo credit: IEEE