We had the chance to work with Roboticist Tomotaka Takahashi, creator of the Evolta Robot, and his team from Japan in the Evolta World Challenge IV: Hawaii Triathlon, held here in Kona.
The Evolta World Challenge is a yearly challenge that Tomotaka Takahashi takes on, building robots powered by Panasonic batteries. This partnership began the Evolta challenge. During each challenge, the robot must complete a challenge using the same three batteries the entire race. If the batteries run out of charge, the robot must stop and recharge. These challenges prove the power of Panasonic batteries and brings publicity to Mr. Takahashi and his robot Evolta. The challenges Evolta has completed includes climbing the Grand Canyon and driving 24-hours non-stop around a NASCAR raceway. The fourth Evolta Challenge was the most difficult triathlon in the world, the Ironman.
On October 23, 2011, the fourth Evolta challenge commenced. The Evolta Robot swam, bicycled and ran to victory. Mr. Takahashi built three different Evolta robots, each modified for each leg of the race. The Evolta robot completed the entire race. The only difference between an Ironman Triathlete and Evolta was their size. The Evolta robot is ten times smaller than a human, so Evolta had ten times the amount of time; approximately seven days.
Over the course of seven days, the Evolta robot swam, bicycled, and ran the entire Ironman route, facing challenges on the way. Evolta saw a lot of support from our community members and many touring the island. The race was broadcasted on the internet to viewers around the world. On the seventh day of the challenge, nearly every person on the island knew about the challenge and was there to support Evolta at the end of the competition.
We supported Evolta from the whole way. During the seven-day triathlon, we were able to invite Mr. Takahashi to give a presentation to a local FLL competition at Kahakai Elementary. The elementary and middle school students were excited to see two of the three-evolta robots in person; the third robot was in the running stage of the triathlon. Mr. Takahashi explained the Evolta Challenge as well as some of his previous robots, such as the first female robot and soccer bots. He showed how the robot followed a sensor to move. The young robotics students were awestruck.
On the last day of the triathlon, hundreds of fans watched the robot make its way to the finish line. People were honking and yelling their supports for Evolta, cheering the small bot towards the end. Many people crowded the finish line chanting “Evolta!” until the team arrived at the finish. Once the bot completed the strenuous challenge, champagne was shot in the air, celebrating another completed Evolta challenge.
A few students from the Tiki Techs created a small aid station for the small evolta bot as it “ran” past the area, pulling humor into the challenge. We had the opportunity to walk alongside the robot as it made its way to the finish line.