Multi-tasking designer robots have already won the gold medal for eye-widening technological achievement at the Tokyo Olympics even though opening ceremony is 12 months away.
Australia’s computer devotees, start-uppers and gamers, not always renowned for their interest in sports generally, will find the Olympics irresistible as the window opens on unprecedented technological achievement in sport.
During the Games the brilliance of human sporting achievements on land and water will be challenged by the stunning skills of a humanoid cast of robots designed to reflect Japan’s heritage of breakthrough technology.
Toyota, an official sponsor of the Tokyo Olympics, is introducing five robots at the Games, saying they will fill various roles all designed to enhance the Games experience for officials, ticket-holders, competitors and people experiencing the events remotely.
The robots will be ushers taking ticket-holders to seats, waiters taking and delivering food and drinks to ordered on a tablet to customers seated in stands, retrieving athletic equipment used in events and mascots with facial recognition able to move their limbs and interact with the public.
Toyota says robots will replace humans at different times during the Games and take on roles that were never thought possible just a few years ago.
There will be Field Support Robots (FSR) about the size of a medium suitcase on wheels. They retrieve javelins, shot puts and other sporting equipment thrown by athletes in the Olympic stadium, saving time and reducing the workload of human officials.
Other specifically designed support in Tokyo includes Human Support Robots (HSRs) and Delivery Support Robots (DSRs).
DSRs deliver drinks and snacks to ticket-holders on site at all venues. Just place your order on a dedicated tablet. They eliminate the need to leave your seat to search for food concessions, reducing congestion.
Toyota says DSRs also show ticket-holders to their seats and are of special assistance to people with mobility problems or using wheelchairs.
For the first time in Olympic history, Tokyo will also have robot mascots, Miraitowa and Someity.
They’ll welcome ticket-holders to venues and be available for photos. Toyota is also planning to send the mascots on a tour of Japan to give people, especially children, who are not coming to the Games, a sense of being involved.
These blue and pink cuties can move their limbs and fitted with camera and facial recognition technology that recognises people. They use their big robotic eyes to respond to human interaction with a range of engaging expressions.
Tokyo’s innovations will put technology at the forefront of the world’s greatest sporting spectacle like never before when the Games begin to captivate tens of millions of people from July 24 to August 9.
The modern Olympics have long been a showcase for evolving as a spectacle and a base for new technology.
Over the years hand-held stop watches have given way to electronic timing in swimming and athletics, eliminating the risk of human error and streamlining the process.
Olympic tennis matches are helped by electronic monitoring of close calls and slow-motion replays eliminate controversy in other sports as well.
Another robotic development at the Tokyo Olympics is the T-HR3, a humanoid robot with impressive articulation that offers a remote experience of being at the Games for people unable to attend in person.
Toyota says the device can stream images and sounds from remote locations back to the Olympic site, acting as a telepresence bot for Olympic supporters off-site.
The units can “converse with and high-five athletes and others,” Toyota says.
The T-TR1 is a robot on wheels with cameras and a super-large vertical display. It can show people at basically life-size scale and let people not coming to the Games chat with Olympic athletes and fans on-site in real time to feel like they are there.
Toyota says the T-TR1 will: “Project an image of a user from a remote location
The successful transition of the robots into the Olympic sphere will open the way to their introduction to everyday life, giving consumers a better lifestyle with more leisure time.
Although the avalanche of technological advancement will captivate audiences at the Olympics and television viewers around the world, humans will still dominate the headlines with their achievements and colourful backgrounds.
But are we moving towards a Robot Olympics where the best technologically produced non-humans from advanced countries compete against each other?