China’s Asian Games, which were delayed for one year due to the COVID pandemic, have finally opened in Hangzhou, the unofficial home of China’s tech industry. As athletes, journalists, officials, and spectators descend upon the city, they are greeted by a captivating display of technological marvels. From autonomous bug zappers to android pianists and driverless ice-cream trucks, machines reign supreme in this futuristic event.
At the Games Village, an automated mosquito trapper roams the premises, efficiently eliminating pests by mimicking human body temperature and breathing. Robot “dogs” patrol power-supply facilities, showcasing their incredible abilities to run, jump, and flip over. Meanwhile, smaller versions dance to entertain the crowd, while a bright-yellow android showcases its musical talent on the piano. Driverless minibusses are ready to transport visitors throughout the nearby city of Shaoxing, ensuring a seamless experience. Athletes can even test their reflexes against a table-tennis playing robot known as the “Pongbot.” These robotic wonders serve as a testament to China’s commitment to showcasing cutting-edge technology.
The Games’ media center features a unique receptionist in the form of a blushing plastic-and-metal humanoid. Equipped with a number pad and card slots built into its torso, this friendly robot greets customers and even operates as a makeshift bank. The center itself is a sprawling space where technology meets efficiency. It is clear that China aims to demonstrate its mastery of robotics and artificial intelligence throughout various aspects of the Games.
Hangzhou, a bustling city in China’s east with a population of 12 million, has gained a reputation as a breeding ground for tech startups. The city boasts an impressive robotics sector eager to rival the industry-leading giants in countries like the United States and Japan. A visit to a local business park reveals DEEP Robotics, where advanced models are tested in real-world scenarios. From navigating construction rubble to traversing rain-soaked pedestrian bridges, these robots showcase their capabilities with remarkable precision. The encounter between a real dog and its robotic counterpart adds a touch of whimsy to the scene.
Beyond the Asian Games, Hangzhou’s tech revolution is evident in everyday life. Office workers rely on vending machines to retrieve meals that are steamed to perfection. These machines, developed by Kuaie Fresh, even ensure that the meal’s temperature is just right. Additionally, they collect valuable data on customer preferences, raising concerns about personal information and privacy. Nevertheless, many are impressed by the machines’ culinary skills, surpassing those of humans who may lack cooking expertise.
The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence has sparked debates about its potential impact on society and employment. While fears linger about machines replacing human workers, Qian Xiaoyu, an executive at DEEP Robotics, emphasizes that robots are merely tools designed to assist humans. China’s embrace of robotics and AI at the Asian Games reflects this perspective. The integration of machines into various tasks aims to enhance human capabilities rather than render them obsolete.
The COVID pandemic has undoubtedly influenced the deployment of certain technologies at the Games. For instance, a temperature-taking robot was initially intended to screen visitors for signs of fever and remind them to wear masks. However, China’s shift away from its zero-COVID policy altered the necessity for this gadget. Consequently, it remains in the toolbox, a reminder that the ever-changing circumstances of a global health crisis require flexibility and adaptability.
China’s Asian Games in Hangzhou not only celebrate athletic achievements but also serve as a technological showcase. From autonomous bug zappers to android pianists and driverless vehicles, the integration of machines into various facets of the event emphasizes China’s ambition to be at the forefront of technological innovation. Hangzhou’s reputation as a thriving tech hub further solidifies its position as a leader in the robotics industry. As these machines become increasingly prevalent in everyday life, it is crucial to strike a balance between their capabilities and the role of humans. Ultimately, China’s tech marvels at the Asian Games provide an awe-inspiring glimpse into a future where humans and machines harmoniously coexist and collaborate.