Robot competition shows off state-of-the-art machinery

CNN News - From Correspondent May Lee

January 20, 1999

YOKOHAMA, Japan (CNN) -- It takes specialized skills to turn
computer chips, wires and wheels into a functioning robot.
Those skills were put on display last weekend at the Robot
Grand Prix in Yokohama, where inventors of all ages gathered
to show off their mechanical creations.

Eighty-six teams of inventors and their mechanical pets went
head-to-head in contests that tested efficiency and

One of the main contests was a mechanical joust involving
the robot "Lancer"- a machine that could be the prototype
for a 21st century knight.

The Lancer was judged according to its ability to hit disks
and knock down cylinders in a race lasting just 100 seconds.

Also on display were some robots programmed to entertain and
others that were built to serve.

There was also a serious side to the Robot Grand Prix -- a
team from the Tokyo Technical University showed off the
"People Finder," a device that can look for earthquake
victims buried in rubble. The group also unveiled a moving
floor mat that can help the handicapped move around their
homes with ease.

The machines found at the Robot Grand Prix may be a far cry
from the sophisticated androids in today's science fiction
movies, but when even amateur creative skills produce
machines like these, it may not be long before science
fiction becomes science fact.

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