On September 23, electronics-maker Panasonic launched a miniature, battery-powered robot from Tokyo to Kyoto, Japan. After traveling over 310 miles for almost two months, the little soldier in a hamster wheel finally arrived at its destination on November 22.
Dubbed Evolta-go, the tricycle-like robot was powered by twelve of Panasonic's Evolta rechargeable batteries, which according to them "are the world's longest lasting AA Alkaline battery." During the voyage, they could only be recharged once per day at one of the 53 gas stations that lined the route.
There is one notable catch to this whole experiment. The supposed ‘robot' was in fact steered by Panasonic employees. Regardless, Evolta-go traveled the route at approximately 3-5km/h, and it made certain to stop at red lights, and rest whenever there was rain. And in instances when it encountered stairs, a staff member would magically pop out of nowhere to "carry it by hand."
This whole scheme—and I use the word scheme with emphasis—was part of a simple publicity stunt by Panasonic designed to elicit the attention of hardcore techno-geeks, and promote their Evolta batteries. It's not the first time Panasonic has done something seemingly spectacular to advertise them. This is in fact the third straight year in a row that they've run some sort of Evolta robot campaign.
Last year, a previous-generation Evolta robot propelled a three-wheeled buggy through France's Grand Prix of Endurance. The year before that, which incidentally is the year the Evolta batteries initially launched, Panasonic had an Evolta robot climb a rope from the bottom to the top of the Grand Canyon. I wonder what they'll do next year!
Regardless, it looks like this year's processions were a success. Now it's time to give the victor his due.