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The Daily Need

Photo: Little robots run circles around competition

Robot "Roovie-PC" of Team Vstone leads a race during the world's first full marathon for robots in Osaka, western Japan on Feb. 24, 2011. Photo: AP/Shizuo Kambayashi

It is being touted as an endurance event. 26 miles. Four days. 423 laps around a 110-yard indoor racetrack. It’s grueling. It’s nonstop. It’s being covered live on the Internet. It’s also being run by very small robots.

The Robomarafull event in Osaka, Japan, is pitting five robots from universities and the robotics firm Vstone in a footrace that coincides with the 2011 Tokyo Marathon. The mechanical “athletes” can run autonomously by following a colored course marker or can be remotely controlled. Aside from an occasional pitstop to recharge batteries and servomotors, the robots must run the race unaided, so if it falls down, it might right itself with no assistance. One of the robots even has what looks like a Gameboy strapped to its top to help it navigate the course. While that one has wheels, my money is on the bipedal Robovie-PC. He seems to have this whole running thing in the bag.

The robots are expected to reach the finish line on February 27,  the day that human runners will begin the Tokyo Marathon.

A word of warning, the video below has a very high “robot cuteness” factor.

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