The Bacarobo 2011 champion, Fanbot Joey, won 2000 Euros. (Photo:Budapest Kitchen)
Europe’s stupidest robots just duked it out for the grand prize in Budapest. In this “survival of the dumbest,” 13 inventors presented their useless robots – robots that watch television, hesitate, and lick ice cream. Attila Nemes, the founder of Europe’s stupidest robot cup, tells host Bruce Gellerman about zany competitors.
GELLERMAN: We’d be remiss if we didn’t report the results of this year’s Bacarobo contest - the search for the stupidest robot on the planet. You heard right! The search for the world’s stupidest robot started in Japan – Baca means stupid in Japanese.
For the past 2 years there's been a Bacarobo in Europe - this year the championship took place at the House of Contemporary Arts in Budapest. And the winner of the Bacarobo Cup is:
[ANNOUNCEMENT IN HUNGARIAN/APPLAUSE]
GELLERMAN: Well, in case your Hungarian is a bit rusty, joining us by phone from Budapest is Attila Nemes. He’s curator of the Bacorobo Europa Stupid Robot Championship.
NEMES: The specific rules are that the robot must be useless, it’s very important.
GELLERMAN: It must be useless, uh huh.
NEMES: And then they have to be stupid, so they have to make people laugh. And then the third one is they have to be robots, so they have to perform without any assistance. But, of course, you have to think of DIY style robots.
GELLERMAN: So, do-it-yourself robots, they’ve gotta operate automatically, they’ve gotta be useless and they’ve gotta be funny.
GELLERMAN: Last year, you had something that looked just like a box - a robot box.
NEMES: Yes, and it sounded like a sheep. And it was running around.
[ROBOT BLEATING LIKE A SHEEP AND AUDIENCE LAUGHING]
NEMES: It was very funny.
GELLERMAN: And totally useless!
NEMES: Sheep-in-the-box, I think that was the title for it. It was a wooden box with some holes in it, and giving this sheep sound, and running around the room.
[SOUND ROBOT BLEATING LIKE A SHEEP]
GELLERMAN: (Laughs). So, I saw one, it was a pair of shivering robots in a refrigerator.
NEMES: Yes, that was a very nice one. Yeah, it was a few shivering hats sitting in a fridge, and when the guy opened the door of the fridge, they escaped from the fridge. So, they ran out, but were still shivering, but they escaped.
GELLERMAN: So, lets talk about this year’s winners. You had, what, 13 finalists?
NEMES: Yes, 13 finalists.
GELLERMAN: So, lets talk about some of the runner-ups before we get to the grand champion.
NEMES: Okay. So, we had this very interesting one, this puddle jumping robot which is holding an umbrella and actually creates water in order to make a puddle and then jumps over it. It was a very nice one.
GELLERMAN: The robot makes water and then jumps over the puddle.
NEMES: Yes, yes. It pours water all around, and then jumps over its puddle. It’s a very funny one. And then we had a very nice one: Love Me, Loves Me Not. Which is tearing leaves from a flower, and of course, when it says it love, then it smiles, then when it says loves me not, it cries. Also very nice…
GELLERMAN: Well, hold it, that could be useful. You’ve got a heartbroken lover who is lazy and they just need a robot to do their hard work!
NEMES: Yeah, actually, one of the jurors said the same and he gave a reduced number of points because he said it’s a really useful one.
GELLERMAN: No, no, if I was there, I would deduct points, absolutely.
NEMES: (Laughs). But there was other ones, for example, I really liked the one called the Nutcracker, which, of course, replies to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, but it looks like the Nutcracker, a big one.
GELLERMAN: I’ve got a picture of this. So, it looks like a solider…
NEMES: It’s like one meter high.
GELLERMAN: And then?
NEMES: Then you give the nut to his mouth so to break it, because he has an open mouth. Instead of closing the mouth and cracking the nut…
GELLERMAN: Uh huh…
NEMES: It raises its hand in between your legs (laughs).
GELLERMAN: Oh! And then…
NEMES: It’s a vicious one, yes.
GELLERMAN: (laughs) And the winner was a soccer fan robot.
NEMES: Yes, FanBot Józsi, it’s a football fan or I should say a soccer fan robot.
GELLERMAN: So, give me a picture of the soccer fan robot, what did it look like and what did it do?
NEMES: It’s sitting on a small couch in front of a 1980s style small TV.
[SOUND OF AUDIENCE]
NEMES: And the robot wasn’t very humanoid. It’s was a very technical looking robot. And it was eating popcorn, and then it was a goal…
[ANNOUNCER YELLING "GOAL" ON ROBOT’S TV, AUDIENCE LAUGHING]
NEMES: Then it picked up a flag. And it started raising it, and also shaking his head - it was very nice. He was also jumping on the couch if he was very excited. So it was very very funny.
GELLERMAN: Goal! And that was the winner!
NEMES: And that was the winner. We had very similar points for two robots - the puddle jumping and this one. But the audience points were higher for this one, so we decided the audience should decide, so this got the 2,000 Euro prize.
GELLERMAN: So Attila, are you going to have a 2012 stupid robot championship?
NEMES: I hope so! We are planning to have the third one and this is for Europe, but we are also thinking about having a global one. So, it would be very nice to global, I think, at this point.
GELLERMAN: I love it.
NEMES: Thank you. I hope that we meet again. In the US at the Global Championship…
GELLERMAN: Oh, we’ll beat you! Oh, we’ve got stupid robots galore, here. And if we don’t, we’ll invent them! (laughing)
NEMES: (Laughs). Oh, I hope so!
GELLERMAN: Well, Attila Nemes, thank you so very much.
NEMES: Thank you, thank you very much.
GELLERMAN: Attila Nemes is the curator of the stupid robot championship.
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