Update on CamelBots

Although robotic jockeys for camel racing have been successfully deployed for several years now, some have voiced concerns about them – for many of the bots are configured to cane the competing camels. (Hi-res photographic example here – the Swiss-made KMEL -manufactured by the K-Team Corporation – note the robotic whipping mechanism). Now a new and potentially less harmful camel jockey-bot has been unveiled. It has been developed by researcher and inventor Mohamed Shakir, who is based at the Dept. of Electrical Engineering, Qatar University. The bot still brandishes a whip, but it’s used only to provide a ‘whip-crack’ sound above the camel (rather than actually thrashing its ‘sensitive areas’). At the same time it also relays crucial voice commands to the animal via a dedicated radio-link, amplifier and a set of speakers. The commands are remotely provided in real-time by the camel’s trainer – who rides alongside the racetrack in the comfort of an SUV.
A photo of the new camel jockey-bot is available here, courtesy qatarqlick.com (Thanks to the Gulf Times for alerting us to the new developments.)

Notes: The impetus for camel-jockey-bot development came in 2002, when the United Arab Emirates prohibited the use of child camel-jockeys (under 15 years of age). Qatar followed suit with similar legislation in 2005.

BONUS: Explore the extensive camel racing facilities at As-Sahhaniyah, (a.k.a. Al Shahaniyah) Qatar, via satellite imagery courtesy Google maps.

PLUS, DO NOT MISS: Doha, Qatar, June 29, 2011, 16:30-18:00: the closing plenary of the

World Conference of Science Journalists, where Marc Abrahams, Reto Schneider, and  Richard Wiseman will argue strenuously on the subject of “Making Fun of Science?”. Moderated by Jennifer Ouellette.

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