Are there some of you out there who wish that you could complete an Ironman Triathlon? I know, at times, that I have had such crazy thoughts, but usually the idea of all the training that is involved stops me from even starting. I just don’t have that kind of energy and motivation to swim/bike/run 142.9 miles.
Then again, what if I wore a battery pack that would maintain my energy? What if I could simply recharge it multiple times to help me get through this ultimate test of endurance? Would I then go out and attempt the Ironman in which I had to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a full marathon (26.2 miles)? Absolutely!
Well, ladies and gentlemen, meet the world’s first battery-powered Ironman: the Evolta.
At first glance, it’s not exactly what one thinks of when they try to imagine what a Ironman triathlete looks like. After all, Evolta is a robot and only stands 6.7 inches tall.
Don’t, however, underestimate this tiny plastic creation. In the past few years, this miniature robot has scaled a 1,500-foot rope up the side of the Grand Canyon and walked the 310-mile route from Tokyo to Kyoto in Japan. Finishing the Ironman was only its latest athletic endurance challenge.
It was even outfitted like the top triathletes with three separate incarnations of the robot attached to different gear for each racing discipline. It did have its own tiny bike (only without the aerodynamic handlebars; not sure if wind resistance is much of a problem six inches off the ground in Kona). In the “run” stage, Evolta moved its tiny little legs inside a round wheel to propel itself.
The hardest stage was the swim, where designers had to figure out how to prevent the little robot from rusting out during the multiple hours it was in the water. Apparently, a shark attack wasn’t much of a consideration. Once the rusting problem was solved, the Evolta swim body was attached to a large curved fin that helped keep it buoyant in the water, while its little legs and arms propelled it through the ocean.
In an effort to not intimidate the human racers, Evolta actually completed the course after the official Ironman Triathlon took place in early October. The official time for the robot was 166 hours and 56 minutes, which is a decent time for something that is 1/10th the size of the average human competitor.
Made by Panasonic, the Evolta is powered by only three AA batteries that can be recharged an estimated 1,800 times. For comparison, the winner of the 2011 Ironman Triathlon, Craig Alexander, completed the race in 8:03:56. He apparently won it the hard way without the use of any battery power.
Is this just a novelty or the first stage of robots competing against humans in these endurance races? Granted, I’m not that worried when it takes the tiny robot almost a week to finish the race. However, if I’m honest with myself, I know that I wouldn’t have finished it at all.