Emerging Science Note/Jockey Robotics
Living on Earth's Max Thelander reports on the latest innovation in the sport of camel racing.
YOUNG: Just ahead: Mexico City has a new high speed bus system. But will anyone get on board? First, this Note on Emerging Science from Max Thelander.
[SCIENCE NOTE THEME]
THELANDER: Think of a fast-moving animal, and camels probably aren’t at the top of your list. But camel racing is a long-standing and culturally important tradition among Bedouin Arabs. For hundreds of years, children as young as four have been favored as jockeys for their light weight. But last year, the United Arab Emirates’ Camel Racing Association banned the use of jockeys under 18, on the heels of allegations that the children were being kidnapped, kept in prison-like conditions, and deliberately underfed.
Confronted with this human rights fiasco, some camel racing enthusiasts got innovative – they asked a Swiss company to develop a replacement. The result is a robot that weighs around 30 pounds and looks like a jockey-sized action figure, complete with helmet and wrap-around glasses. Mounted on the back of a camel, the robot’s mechanical arms are capable of pulling reigns and using a whip. The arms, in turn, are controlled by humans using handheld remotes, chasing the camels in SUVs.
The inaugural test race was attended by hundreds of cheering fans, as well as the UAE minister for presidential affairs, who proclaimed it a tremendous success and said it marked “a new development in this indispensable sport.” Thousands of the robots, selling for about $2000 each, are already on order. As for the children, some 250 of them have been returned to their homes. That’s this week’s Note on Emerging Science. I’m Max Thelander.
YOUNG: And you’re listening to Living on Earth.
ANNOUNCER: Support for N-P-R comes from N-P-R stations, and: The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, online at m-o-t-t dot org, supporting efforts to promote a just, equitable and sustainable society; The Kresge Foundation. Building the capacity of nonprofit organizations through challenge grants since 1924. On the web at k-r-e-s-g-e dot org; The Annenberg Fund for excellence in communications and education; and, The W-K Kellogg Foundation. ‘From Vision to Innovative Impact: 75 Years of Philanthropy. This is N-P-R, National Public Radio.
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Newsletter [Click here]
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth