The torch relay has always been an inherent feature of the Olympic Games, and carrying it across the host country is a matter of privilege for anyone. This year in South Korea, the honour of carrying the torch for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on day 41 of the Olympic Torch Relay was given to a humanoid robot named HUBO.
HUBO first gave a ride to Professor Dennis Hong, the founding director of the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at UCLA, who passed the torch to the 47-inch tall humanoid. It was apparently a bumpy ride, but Hong laughed it off since HUBO’s primary function is rescue operations. The robot is one of 85 being utilised by the Pyeongchang Olympics for assistance with security, information services and cleaning.
HUBO then carried the torch – it can walk 65 paces per minute – at its birthplace, the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, for about 500 feet, before showcasing its skills with tools. It used a drill to cut a hole through a wooden wall painted to look like bricks, to pass the torch to its creator Professor Oh Jun-ho.
Jun-ho then passed the torch to yet another robot, somewhat larger than HUBO, standing eight feet tall. FX-2, the massive robot you can see in the video above, is KAIST’s latest, and was operated by a 14-year-old aspiring scientist.