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How robots broke into the camel racing biz

Paul Miller, @futurepaul
October 30, 2005
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After a hard year of endless soccer games and dancing sessions, robots are giving back to the community with the difficult new task of… camel jockey. Yeah, we've talked about this before, but now Wired magazine has a report about what all went on to get robots to replace enslaved 4-year-old boys behind the hump in the rich man's sport of camel racing. In an effort to improve US relations, Arabia's oil-rich Qatar commissioned a Swiss firm to build light weight bots capable of controlling the reins and cracking a whip. The jockey bots are remotely controlled by the camel owners, who are also relayed GPS information and even the camel's heart rate from the Linux powered riders. The robots weren't the easiest to make, not only did they have to be as light as the starved children they replaced, but they also had to be robust enough to handle camel rides at 25 MPH and the 112-degree heat, luckily, with the help of a patient camel named Hanoud, the Swiss team overcame. So props to Qatar for solving their problem with robots, and we're very happy they can get their camel racing on without upsetting the US government, but according to the article the newly emancipated children are merely being sent back to their homes and an uncertain future in the Sudan and elsewhere—hardly an improvement in their situation—so no points for actually helping out the kids.

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