The world’s first robot marathon race

The world’s first robot marathon race

Robovie-PC, a toy-sized humanoid, won the world’s first full-length marathon for two-legged robots by a whisker Saturday, beating its closest rival by a single second after more than two days of racing.

Five bipedal machines began the non-stop 42.2-kilometre (26.2-mile) contest on a 100-metre indoor track in the western Japanese city of Osaka Thursday morning after doing knee bends or raising their hands to greet spectators.

One of the competitors retired after finishing only the first lap, but the others continued running day and night, getting up by themselves every time they fell to the floor or got into collisions with rivals.

Robovie-PC, 40 centimetres (16 inches) tall and weighing 2.4 kilograms (5.3 pounds), stormed into first place with only a few laps to go after Robovie-PC Lite, which had established a comfortable lead and appeared to have secured an easy victory, suddenly locked up.

Robovie-PC Lite managed to return to the track and fiercely chased the leader, but after 422 laps Robovie-PC crossed the line in 54 hours 57 minutes 50 seconds, organisers said, one second ahead of its rival.

Their average speed was 0.77 kilometres per hour.

Robot “Roovie-PC” of Team Vstone leads a race during the world’s first full marathon for robots in Osaka, western Japan, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Participating five robots must complete 422 laps around a 110-yard (100-meter) indoor racetrack to cover 26 miles (42 kilometers). Survivors of the nonstop race _ except for battery changes and repairs _ are expected to hit the finish line on Feb. 27, when their human counterparts run in the popular Tokyo marathon. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

A student of Osaka Institute of Technology controls the team’s robot during the world’s first full marathon for robots in Osaka, western Japan, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Participating five robots must complete 422 laps around a 110-yard (100-meter) indoor racetrack to cover 26 miles (42 kilometers). Survivors of the nonstop race _ except for battery changes and repairs _ are expected to hit the finish line on Feb. 27, when their human counterparts run in the popular Tokyo marathon. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Students of Osaka Institute of Technology adjust the team’s robot during the world’s first full marathon for robots in Osaka, western Japan, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Participating five robots must complete 422 laps around a 110-yard (100-meter) indoor racetrack to cover 26 miles (42 kilometers). Survivors of the nonstop race _ except for battery changes and repairs _ are expected to hit the finish line on Feb. 27, when their human counterparts run in the popular Tokyo marathon. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Osaka Institute of Technology student Kazumasa Shibata, left, controls his team’s robot during the world’s first full marathon for robots in Osaka, western Japan, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Participating five robots must complete 422 laps around a 110-yard (100-meter) indoor racetrack to cover 26 miles (42 kilometers). Survivors of the nonstop race _ except for battery changes and repairs _ are expected to hit the finish line on Feb. 27, when their human counterparts run in the popular Tokyo marathon. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Robots race shortly after the start of the world’s first full marathon for robots, organized by technology company Vstone Co., in Osaka, western Japan, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Participating five robots must complete 422 laps around a 110-yard (100-meter) indoor racetrack to cover 26 miles (42 kilometers). Survivors of the nonstop race _ except for battery changes and repairs _ are expected to hit the finish line on Feb. 27, when their human counterparts run in the popular Tokyo marathon. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Robots race during the world’s first full marathon for robots in Osaka, western Japan, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Participating five robots must complete 422 laps around a 110-yard (100-meter) indoor racetrack to cover 26 miles (42 kilometers). Survivors of the nonstop race _ except for battery changes and repairs _ are expected to hit the finish line on Feb. 27, when their human counterparts run in the popular Tokyo marathon. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Robot “Roovie-PC” of Team Vstone, center, leads a race during the world’s first full marathon for robots in Osaka, western Japan, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Participating five robots must complete 422 laps around a 110-yard (100-meter) indoor racetrack to cover 26 miles (42 kilometers). Survivors of the nonstop race _ except for battery changes and repairs _ are expected to hit the finish line on Feb. 27, when their human counterparts run in the popular Tokyo marathon. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

A TV cameraman films robot “Roovie-PC” of Team Vstone leading a race during the world’s first full marathon for robots in Osaka, western Japan, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Participating five robots must complete 422 laps around a 110-yard (100-meter) indoor racetrack to cover 26 miles (42 kilometers). Survivors of the nonstop race _ except for battery changes and repairs _ are expected to hit the finish line on Feb. 27, when their human counterparts run in the popular Tokyo marathon. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Team Vstone’s Takuro Imagawa adjusts robot “Roovie-PC” during the world’s first full marathon for robots in Osaka, western Japan, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Participating five robots must complete 422 laps around a 110-yard (100-meter) indoor racetrack to cover 26 miles (42 kilometers). Survivors of the nonstop race _ except for battery changes and repairs _ are expected to hit the finish line on Feb. 27, when their human counterparts run in the popular Tokyo marathon. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Robot “Roovie-PC” of Team Vstone leads a race during the world’s first full marathon for robots in Osaka, western Japan, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Participating five robots must complete 422 laps around a 110-yard (100-meter) indoor racetrack to cover 26 miles (42 kilometers). Survivors of the nonstop race _ except for battery changes and repairs _ are expected to hit the finish line on Feb. 27, when their human counterparts run in the popular Tokyo marathon. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

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