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China Presents “Tiangong”: First Fully Electric Humanoid Robot 

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Tiangong is the world’s first electric humanoid robot that’s capable of effortlessly running or, should we say, jogging 6 kilometers per hour. This general-purpose robot was created by the Beijing Humanoid Robot Innovation Center and can handle diverse terrain, including stairs.

Chinese engineers started working on Tiangong in November 2023 in Beijing at the newly opened Beijing Humanoid Robot Innovation Center. This is the only provincial humanoid robot lab in China. The cutting-edge research lab brings together over one hundred Chinese robotics companies. All of these stakeholders are collaborating to build robots without relying on third-party countries. These robotics companies have created a complete supply chain from components to software and engineering skills.

The Beijing Humanoid Robot Innovation Center is a collaboration between Beijing Jingcheng Machinery Electric, UBTech Robotics, Beijing Yizhuang Investment Holdings Limited, and Xiaomi. The goal of the research lab is to develop humanoid robots capable of a range of tasks.

In April 2024, the Beijing Humanoid Robot Innovation Center debuted its robot Tiangong. The Chinese robot is the first human-sized robot in the entire world that’s fully electric. Other similar robots are Boston Dynamics’ Atlas and Unitree’s H1.

How Big Is This Humanoid Robot?

Tiangong humanoid is around the height of the average woman, standing at 1.63 m (5.4 ft), and weighs just 43 kg (95 lb). The robot is powered by a 48-V battery, and the arms have impressive movement with up to three degrees of freedom compared to humans, who have seven, while Tiangong’s legs have six, just one less than humans. This Chinese robot isn’t just lightweight and nimble, it’s also intelligent. The creators said Tiangong can process over half a trillion actions per second. 

Currently, Tiangong can’t pick up objects or throw them because the electric robot is lacking hands. However, the Beijing Humanoid Robot Innovation Center plans to add them in the future. They envision Tiangong one day being able to do everything that a person can do. Human-like hands are notoriously difficult to create, and many humanoid robots are handless.

What Can Tiangong Do?

The electric humanoid robot can walk up and down stairs at different heights and maintains its balance while moving at a steady pace. Likewise, Tiangong has no issues with sloped surfaces. The robot adjusts its gait to whatever surface it comes in contact with. You won’t find Tangong stubbing its toes or tripping over! 

The robot’s most impressive feat is its running ability. Tiangong can clock speeds of up to 6 kilometers per hour (3.7 miles per hour). While this is far from a sprint, the robot does gracefully jog. Unfortunately, Tiangong wouldn’t fare well in a race against fellow Chinese robot H1, which is the world’s fastest humanoid robot. H1 can run 17.7 kilometers per hour (11 miles per hour).

Tiangong is powered by a self-learner algorithm that incorporates predictive reinforcement learning. This algorithm allows the robot to constantly improve its movement in real-time and adjust based on the terrain it encounters, just like a human. The robot is also dotted with sensors, which help it gauge the amount of force it needs to exert.

Tiangong has a fairly natural gait. While the humanoid robot doesn’t move like a prime athlete, its gait reminds you of an elderly man. Tiangong doesn’t lift its feet very high off the ground and doesn’t spend much time with its weight on one foot. However, the Chinese robot does shuffle along at a decent pace.

Tiangong isn’t nearly as athletic as Boston Dynamics’ Atlas. The American humanoid robot is capable of sprinting and, in a recent video, performed parkour and even backflips. Atlas can navigate much more complex terrain. It recently picked up a tool bag and climbed building scaffolding before safely making its way down.

However, the creators believe Tiangong has the potential to surpass Atlas. They want this electric humanoid robot to help companies in the factory, perform household chores, and be used as a social companion. You could play a round of golf with your new robot friend or have a hit on the tennis court. We’re a long way from that reality, but it’s safe to say that we’ve entered the robot era. Within one hundred years, our society could be run by an army of robots.

Read more: Athletes meet Technology — Machina Sports

From thrilling match breakdowns to exploring the latest trends in esports, I'm here to guide you through the dynamic world where sports and gaming intersect. Let's embark on an exhilarating journey together through the adrenaline-fueled realm of Machina Sports!"

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Cyprus Computer Society to Host Minoan Robot Sports Competition Global Olympiad

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Minoan Robot Sports

The Robot Olympics is coming to Cyprus. The Cyprus Computer Society has added all kinds of fun sporting events to the Robotex festival. This new robot sports series, dubbed the Minoan Robot Sports Competition Global Olympiad, will be held in Cyprus for the first time ever.

The Hellenic Educational Robotics Organisation and the Cyprus Computer Society are working together to put on an epic robot sporting spectacle. The competition will take place at the Sports Centre of the University of Cyprus on June 29 and 30, 2024.

Everyone is free to enter the event. All ages, including students and adults, are encouraged to join. It only costs €50 per team to participate. 

What Events Are in the Minoan Robot Sports Competition Global Olympiad?

The Minoan Robot Sports Competition Global Olympiad will feature robot sumo, car racing, maze escape events, line following challenges, shot put, archery, and more. The robots are going to be exhausted after being put through so many challenging competitions.

Robot sumo, or Pepe sumo, will be the most hotly contested event. This robot sport started in the 1980s in Japan and has now spread around the world with hundreds of thousands of participants.

In robot sumo, two autonomous robots are placed in a circle and then attempt to push each other out. Whoever remains in the circle wins, just like in sumo wrestling. Despite its simplicity, it actually requires some serious engineering skills. Participants need to design a robot that can not only locate the opponent but also detect the edge of the circle and avoid being pushed out!

The maze escape event will be another competition to keep an eye on. The robots will be dropped into a maze and use their sensors to figure out where they are and find a way out. Whichever robot can emerge from the maze the fastest wins. 

While the maze escape may seem like a fun game, it actually has some serious real-world applications as well. Roboticists are currently designing robots that they hope will one day perform search and rescue missions. Being able to navigate unknown and complex terrain is an essential skill these search and rescue bots need to master.

What Do the Winners of the Minoan Robot Sports Competition Global Olympiad Get?

The winners will earn a spot at Robotex International in Estonia, which will be held in Tallinn from December 6 to 7, 2024. Again, they’ll get to put their robots on display against the best teams from all around Europe.

At Robotex International in Estonia, the winners will get to rub shoulders with industry leaders and potentially score internships. The latest robotics technology will be on display, and there’ll be a host of startups looking to recruit talent.

Diversity and Gender Equality a Cornerstone of Event in Cyprus 

The organizers of the Minoan Robot Sports Competition Global Olympiad have made a concerted effort to get girls and women involved. There are also special events for school children hosted by the robots for an Inclusive Society organization. 

The school children will build Lego robots and compete in different challenges. There are categories for elementary and high school children. Apart from the robot building and sports competitions, there’ll also be interactive exhibitions and music performances, so attendees of all ages will enjoy the festival. The Cyprus Computer Society is doing a great job inspiring the next generation!

Cyprus’ President Believes in the Power of Robotics

The Minoan Robot Sports Competition Global Olympiad is being sponsored by Nikos Christodoulides, the President of Cyprus. The event, organized by the Cyprus Computer Society, has managed to attract a number of major public and private sector sponsors.

The Bank of Cyprus and XM are sponsoring the Minoan Robot Sports Competition Global Olympiad. Other big companies and institutions helping fund the event include Neapolis University Pafos, Hellas Sat and Huawei, ZEBRA Consultants, and Novatex Solutions Ltd.

We’re in the very beginning of robot sports. Events like the Minoan Robot Sports Competition Global Olympiad give us a glimpse into the future, where the most famous athletes may not be human at all. Don’t be surprised if, in 30 years, more people will be tuning in to watch the Robot Olympics than the traditional Olympic Games! 

Read more: How Robots Can Positively Impact Sports

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From Passion to Full Time career — how Thomas Bitmatta changed his life — and so can you

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Changing Passion in a lucrative career

Thumbnail from YouTube interview with Thomas

There’s a moment in life when you stand at the edge of a decision. 

Before you, lies the comfortable, the known. Behind you, the whisper of what could be beckons — a call to adventure that won’t silence. For Thomas Bitmatta, known in the drone racing skies as BMS Thomas, that moment wasn’t just a fleeting thought. It was a crossroads. And his choice? To leap.

Thomas’s story isn’t one of overnight success or serendipitous luck. 

No. 

It’s a narrative hewn from the bedrock of passion, a relentless pursuit of mastery in the fast world of FPV (First-Person View) drone racing. In the grand scheme of life’s pursuits, Thomas chose a path less taken, and it has made all the difference.

The Ascent Begins

Imagine, for a moment, a hobby. 

Now watch as that hobby turns into an obsession, that obsession into a calling. This is the genesis of BMS Thomas’s journey from an intrigued enthusiast dabbling in drone flights to becoming a beloved icon in the global drone racing community.

“Today, I bring you the story of a dreamer who dared to chase his dreams across the skies.”

Thomas’s story began quietly in Australia, sparked by a simple YouTube video. 

Fast forward through years of tinkering, learning, and countless flights, and you find the moment where hobby crossed into destiny. Thomas didn’t just enter the world of drone racing; he redefined his life’s trajectory with a racing drone’s throttle.

Racing Against the Wind

In conversation, Thomas shared insights of his early days, reminiscing about the makeshift races in Melbourne, the allure of the Japan drone league, and his subsequent ascension to international fame. Each race, each flight was more than competition; it was a chapter in his ongoing tale of self-discovery and perseverance.

“It’s more than just flying,” Thomas reflected. “It’s about pushing boundaries, both the drones and my own.”

His journey highlights not merely the evolution of a racer but the transformation of a life through passion. Amidst talks of tracks, technicalities, and tournaments, there’s a subtle yet profound message: dedication, coupled with a love for one’s craft, can elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Navigating Through Turbulence

Yet, the path was not free of challenges. In his chase for passion, Thomas navigated through rough moments — balancing the demands of competitive racing with the rigours of building a career. Sponsorships didn’t come easy, nor did the recognition. It demanded more than skill; it required visibility, influence, and a deep-seated belief in the value of his pursuit.

“And then, something clicked. The right place, the right time, and suddenly, the support came.”

Thomas’s narrative serves as a beacon for anyone standing on the brink of pursuing their dream. It’s a testament to the truth that success, in any field, is a concoction of passion, persistence, and a willingness to forge ahead despite the odds.

Can you do it as well?

Today, BMS Thomas continues to race, not just as a competitor but as an inspiration. His journey tells us that to follow one’s passion is not to walk a path free of obstacles, but to navigate through storms, propelled by the heart.

“If there’s anything my journey has taught me,” Thomas said, “it’s that dreams are not just fleeting whims. They are the seeds of our future.”

See, life, much like drone racing, is not about the fear of falling. It’s about the thrill of flight, the pursuit of passions, and the unwavering courage to chase the horizon, no matter where it leads.

And so, to anyone teetering on the edge of decision, remember BMS Thomas. Remember that when passion takes flight, the sky’s not the limit — it’s just the beginning.

Watch the full interview with Thomas here

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The World Robot Championships Are Coming to the Netherlands in July

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World Robot Championship

Over 3,000 roboticists from 45 countries are heading to Eindhoven University of Technology from July 17 to 21, 2024, to take part in the World Robot Championship. They’ll put their autonomous robots to the test in a number of competitions, including soccer, rescue, and home based tasks. Organisers expect over 400 teams to participate and 50,000+ spectators.

The event isn’t just about intense competition. The goal of the World Robot Championships is to accelerate the development of affordable and reliable robot technology to aid in the betterment of society. There will be numerous workshops and demonstrations, including interactive displays for children. 

RoboCup Soccer

Soccer is by far the most popular event at the World Robot Championships. In this event, two teams of five robots play two 15-minute halves. They use a standard FIFA ball, and whoever scores the most goals during the allotted time period wins!

All the robots are 100% autonomous, the roboticists aren’t allowed to control the bot football players at all. They’re custom-designed and divided into different leagues based on weight and size.

The robots are decked out in sensors and powered by AI. They’re capable of playing strategically, identifying the ball, goal, teammates, and other opponents. Currently, the robots play soccer like three-year-olds, but it’s an amazing feat of engineering that, without assistance, they can dribble, shoot, and pass.

The founders of the organization have a very ambitious goal. They want to create a team of robots that can defeat the reigning human World Cup champions by 2050. We can’t wait to see the robot version of Messi effortlessly dribbling past the world’s best human players and slotting goals with ease.

RoboCup Rescue

One of the major potential use cases for autonomous robots is search and rescue. Robots can venture into environments that are too dangerous for human rescuers and, thanks to their superhero-level strength, save people from disastrous situations.

In the RoboCup Rescue, robots are tested on their ability to navigate challenging environments autonomously. They’re judged based on proficiency in performing complex tasks such as moving obstructing objects, turning off switches, and picking up and carrying away injured people.

This competition has been taking place for over 20 years. Even though progress is slow due to the sheer complexity involved, scientists hope that within 50 years, there will be robot first responders who can consistently outperform humans. 

RoboCup Home

Everyone dreams of having their army of robots that can effortlessly handle household chores. In this competition, you’ll get to see exactly how far away that reality is.

In the RoboCup Home, robots undertake a range of challenges, including rearranging messy rooms, serving breakfast, putting away groceries, and even welcoming guests. Roboticists believe that within a few years, their robots can help people with mobility issues. 

Again, the robots are fairly rudimentary, and we’re still a long way from a robot butler who can do the gardening, wash your clothes, and then whip up dinner. However, these autonomous robots are progressing very quickly. Within 40 years, we’ll probably have robot servants who can handle basic household chores.

The Netherlands Has Become a Hub for Autonomous Robots

The Netherlands may be a small country with just 17 million people, but they punch well above their weight when it comes to robots. Just in Eindhoven alone, there are five RoboCup teams, including the multiple-time world champion Tech United (TU/e). There is also RIF (Fontys) Robot Sports (VDL), RoboHub (Fontys), and Falcons (ASML).

Dutch Universities are at the forefront of AI and robotics. And it seems the next generation is in safe hands, as hundreds of Dutch high school students will also take part in competitions for juniors. Don’t be surprised if the next Telsa or Boston Dynamics comes out of the Netherlands in the next 10 years.

The World Robot Championships kicks off on July 17 and is taking place in Eindhoven at the University of Technology. You’ll get to see the latest autonomous robots and see them compete in soccer and domestic chore competitions and even perform search and rescue missions.

If you can’t attend, don’t worry; many of the events will be live-streamed and uploaded to YouTube. Don’t forget to check out the RoboCup, where miniature robots Messis and Ronaldos will be mesmerizing spectators all over the pitch!

Read more: Are We Entering a Robot Golden Age? NVIDIA’s CEO Thinks So!

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