If you thought the debate over giving robots weapons was heated, the day is coming when we’ll also have to decide if we’re cool with them competing against us at sports. If this rhythmic gymnastics bot is any indication, there may never again be a human on the Olympic podium if that happens.
The robot twirling this ribbon is a Denso VS-050S2 arm, which is usually employed for more industrious applications. But here it was instead taught its impressive rhythmic skills by the team at Japan’s FIG Amana Prototyping Lab. Using 3D software they were able to generate an algorithm that could recreate common movements used by rhythmic gymnasts during ribbon routines, and teach the robot how to recreate them as best as possible given that it’s stationary.
So is Japan’s ribbon bot an Olympic threat yet? Probably not. The use of performance-enhancing software will surely get it disqualified. And you can’t exactly climb a podium to accept your medal when you’re bolted to the ground.