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Robotics News

Camel-Riding Robots 217

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-stealing-children dept.
misterpies writes "Of the many jobs robots could be put to use, here's one I'll bet not many slashdotters have considered - camel jockeys. According to the BBC, from next year racing camels in the United Arab Emirates will be ridden by robots. And for once, the folks put out of work won't be complaining - mostly children (some as young as four) who are reportedly abducted or sold by their families to unscrupulous racing-camel owners. How long until we see robots take over from humans in other sports?"
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Camel-Riding Robots

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  • by akadruid (606405) <slashdot@@@thedruid...co...uk> on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:49AM (#12199482) Homepage
    This is exactly a prime use for robots, assuming I don't mistunderstand the social aspects involved.

    What surprises me is that a relatively complex task in an area where human wages are fairly low should justify the replacement of humans by robots, and yet in countries where wages are sky high, human workers are doing much simpler tasks.

    The fact that is appears as surreal as a python sketch obviously shows up my lack of knowledge of other cultures.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:50AM (#12199490)
    I'm betting on seeing regular athletes get cyborged before being replaced by robots outright. Imagine, get an implant, drug tests all come up clean, improved reflexes are less a give-away than overdeveloped musculature from steroid use (assuming you're not being ridiculous about the improvements you're giving yourself), the actual nature of the machinery can be obfuscated away as some necessary thing like a pacemaker...
  • Motor Racing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by moon-monster (712361) on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:54AM (#12199515) Homepage Journal
    I'd be quite happy to see robots take over in motor racing. It'd be great to see what kind of machines people could come up with to get themselves round a track as quickly as possible, once all the design concerns related to human safety are removed.

    It's also more practical financially, as in most of the large motor racing series there is already a substantial budget for hardware maintenance. ;-)
  • robocup (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nounderscores (246517) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:05AM (#12199575)
    The goal of robocup: To build a team of robots that can play and beat humans at soccer [robocup.org] (possibly without killing the human team)

    My uni has a team competeing. [mu.oz.au]

    We do pretty well at the f180 and abio class comps.
  • by mrsev (664367) <mrsev.spymac@com> on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:07AM (#12199588)
    ...I was absolutely shocked to see the phrase "camel jockeys" on the front page of slashdot. I had to take a doulbe take. I am sure that many other English readers will feel the same. A "camel jockey" in english slang is a term of denigration for Arabs in general.

    As regards your percapetion of the arab world sports may I remind you that we, in the west, put migets on horses and race them. Anyway makes more sense that American Football or Cricket...both incomprihensable to outsiders.
  • Re:Why? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:13AM (#12199623)
    I think you read it the wrong way. The parents aren't selling their children because they want some camel to win a race, but because they want to get rid of the child. Selling them to racing-camel owners is just one way of doing it.
  • Humans vs. Robots (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Valthezeh (870251) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:30AM (#12199734)
    I could be wrong, but I don't really think there will be a big push to replace humans with robots in most sports. Maybe as a cool, project/aside from traditional sports, as robots are capable of doing things that humans aren't and it would provide a challenge to those interested AI, but not replacing persay.

    One of the things most people who enjoy sports like is the ability to relate to the players, and the fact that they can aspire to be like them or view them as role models, etc. This aspect of sports would be lost if the players were robots instead of humans.
  • by Bertrum (631643) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:30AM (#12199738)
    So they are currently fed little to keep them light. Exactly how much food do you think they will get once they aren't earning money for the arse who owns them by riding camels.
    My guess is the amount of food won't go up!
  • by akadruid (606405) <slashdot@@@thedruid...co...uk> on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:37AM (#12199792) Homepage
    You're quite right - I have no idea about costing real world robots, but I think that is a market issue.

    I think it will require radical changes in the way we design and think about things, but its proven possible to achieve - ATMs and other vending machines and printing are some of the more successful ones that I can think of.

    In most cases I think that it is the flexability of humans that wins out - most of the situations you mentioned, the task varies too much to be automated properly yet - e.g. street sweepers have to navigate obscure obstacles and deal with a multitude of subtly different targets.

    But, for example, how about robots to prepare fast food? It's a straight forward repetative task which a machine can be designed for - non-trivial perhaps, but well within todays technology.

    Humans require various costs above their salary, even subtle things such as increased work space, which may be valuable. I think it is already feasible for, say, McDonalds in ultra busy areas (such as Oxford Street, London).

    The way you pay for robots is very different too. Robots require a huge up front design cost, a noticable investment to buy, and a smaller amount to run - varying quality of design probably affects maintainence costs the most.

    There are various subtle improvements that robots can bring to mundane tasks too, such as the ability to work much longer hours, or at off-peak hours, attention to detail, consistant performance, improved speed and power in some roles, and so on.
  • by danila (69889) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:36AM (#12200270) Homepage
    Marshal Brain [marshallbrain.com] agrees. He argues that fast-food workers [marshallbrain.com] (and service workers in general) will be one of the first major professions to be automated next (in the next few decades).
  • by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhockingNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:50AM (#12200402) Homepage Journal
    There are two types of enhancment surgeries open to baseball players: laser eye surgery and Tommy John surgery. The first one is fairly ubiquitous and currently not very scrutinized. Improve your vision and you are better able to see what the pitcher is throwing your way. The second almost seems like a response to the first: they drill holes in your arm bones, figure-eight your tendons, and suddenly the pitcher can pitch better than he ever has before. Currently, AFAIK, the latter is only done on "injured" pitchers, but as my scare quotes are meant to indicate, the threshold for what injured means seems to be getting lower.
  • by Intron (870560) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:57AM (#12200484)
    I guess you haven't heard about Tommy John surgery [usatoday.com]. Baseball pitchers have been artificially enhanced for nearly 30 years. Since there's no social stigma about surgery its legal, unlike steroids, which are "drugs".
  • fast food (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bluGill (862) on Monday April 11, 2005 @11:14AM (#12201403)

    10 years ago (when I worked there) McDonald's was testing a robot fry cook. At the time it was too expensive. However they took one part of the cook and installed that everywhere: a robot to fill the fry baskets.

    Fast Food kitchens are a good place for robots. People should not work near hot grease, because of the danger of burns. (One guy I worked with was hospitalized due to burns from cleaning the vats. After that everyone started using the provided gloves)

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JahToasted (517101) <toastafari@yaho o . c om> on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:16PM (#12203956) Homepage
    Oh don't act so high and mighty. The clothes you wear, the shoes on your feet, etc, were most likely produced by child labour. But you never stop and think about the poor kid when you buy all that crap from walmart. You make a cold decision based on price alone. You want some poor kid to make your sneakers so you can save five bucks. Just because you rationalise it by say that those kids are far away and believe in a different god than you, doesn't make you a better person then the parents who sell their kids so they don't starve (and probably were promised that their child would be well treated). Compare starving to death to spending $5 more for sneakers. Now who's the bad guy?

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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