Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 37293
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2017/12/16 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
12/16   

2005/4/20-22 [Science/Electric] UID:37293 Activity:nil
4/20    Okay, this is weird if it's actually true: http://csua.org/u/bsk
2017/12/16 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
12/16   

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2009/2/25-3/3 [Science/GlobalWarming] UID:52633 Activity:nil
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Cache (3733 bytes)
csua.org/u/bsk -> www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/04/20/robot.jockeys.ap/index.html
DOHA, Qatar (AP) -- With the reins in one hand and a whip in the other, t he purple-jerseyed rider prodded a camel around the track. Under the watchful eyes of his Swiss developer and Qatari owners, the rob ot -- dubbed Kamel -- rode a racing camel for 15 miles, reaching speeds of 25 miles per hour in a non-competitive trial run. By 2007, rulers of this energy-rich emirate say all camel racers will be mechanical. The developer, Alexandre Colot of the Swiss robotics firm K-Team, wasn't as impressed as the rest of the crowd. "I wasn't surprised," Colot said, as he walked toward the camel to unstra p Kamel and put him in a box for the night. "I've seen him do that befor e, so to me, it's not something strange." Camel racing has deep roots in the traditions of Gulf Arabs and their sur vival in this barren and once poor and isolated land. Races are grueling contests of endurance and take place on oval courses as long as 10 kilo meters. Betting is banned but lucrative purses are put forward by corpor ate or tribal sponsors. Spurring the robots' development has been vehement condemnation from huma n rights groups of the sport's regular jockeys. Activists say there are about 40,000 boy jockeys, some as young as 4, who are either bought from their parents or kidnapped from their home countries and taken to the G ulf to ride. The boys live in bleak conditions and are underfed before r aces to keep their weight down. In Qatar, ruling sheiks have responded to calls for banning the use of bo y jockeys by embracing robots as the best solution. Sheik Abdullah bin Saud, the Qatari official in charge of the project, sa id the plan is to keep developing the robot until it is ready to take ov er. "Improve the speed, the weight, the aerodynamics, to reach the ultimate g oal of completely phasing out children used as jockeys," Sheik Abdullah said. The project began in January last year, when K-Team sent a group to study camel races in Doha. "We came to Doha with only a digital camera," Colot said. "We took detail ed shots of the jockeys riding the camels, to capture every possible mov ement and reaction by the jockeys that occurs during the race." The result was a robot that receives commands from a remote control up to a half-mile away. A camel handler follows the rider in a vehicle and uses a joystick on the laptop-sized remote to issue four instructions: forward, backward, side ways and whip action. The robot, in turn, uses those commands to drive t he camel. The 60-pound robot is also equipped with a global positioning system sate llite beacon and shock absorbers for the rough ride. To prevent camels from rejecting the robots, handlers spray their jerseys with traditional perfume used by trainers. "It was important for us that the camel recognizes and accepts the robot, so we had to make him as human as possible," said Colot. They are part of our history and tradition, s o we have tried to find an alternative," Sheik Abdullah said. Race organizers plan to have 20 riding robots ready when racing season st arts in October. Sheik Abdullah said plans are underway to set up an ass embly plant, a maintenance center and a training institute for robot use rs. Sheik Abdullah and Colot said camel racing enthusiasts were skeptical tha t robots could ride as well as boys, worrying that the machines would ru in the lucrative sport, where winners claim purses of hundreds of thousa nds of dollars. "It will take time, and we'll t rain some of them to use the robot by June." The Swiss engineer said that initial results show that robots may soon be come the preferred jockeys, not just a second-best alternative. "We're 10 seconds slower than the fastest time recorded for a 5-kilometer race," he said.