Cute little robots are the early stars of the 2018 Olympics, so watch out

One robot in action. Watch for his companion in back. (via Yahoo Sports)
One robot in action. Watch for his companion in back. (via Yahoo Sports)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The 2018 Olympic Games are a technological marvel, a web of high-bandwidth interconnectivity laid over PyeongChang’s snow-covered peaks. Tunnels have multicolored directional lights. Bridges boast cascading LED signs. Storefronts throughout PyeongChang and nearby Gangneung boast flickering, dancing displays. And in several places around the Games, technology rolls right up in your face.

Two little units, about the size of a carry-on suitcase, roll merrily around the carpet in the Media Village Dining Hall, playing cheerful Korean music while projecting a sequence of images onto the carpet before them. The rotating images range from serene photos of the Korean landscape to a weather forecast to the day’s event schedule. The units will remain in one position for a short time, and then roll onward, projecting their displays all the way.

It’s cute and charming, as long as you don’t think too much about it. Me, I decided to see what would happen if we introduced an element of uncertainty to the little units’ merry lives.

First off, I just went and stood in the unit’s path. Watch what happens.

Did you see that? The little thing was sizing me up! It ran a threat matrix algorithm through its chip of a brain, and either decided it didn’t want any of me, or that I didn’t present any kind of real threat. I’m going to go with the former.

Anyway, not long afterward, the robot and I had another go-round. And this one was much more sinister.

Check that out! The first one charged me. And while I was focused on him, his little buddy flanked me! They knew what they were doing, people. They had me ambushed. They could have slammed into my shins, knocked me over while playing a jaunty tune and showing the day’s weather, and there would be nothing I could do.

Worth noting: I also spotted a monstrous rolling robot the size of a clothes dryer vacuuming in the press center. This gargantuan Roomba also behaved itself, deferring to the humans walking in its path. But if it decided to go rogue, well … I’ve seen the Terminator flicks, I know how this story ends.

Now, I’m not saying that those robots have evil intent. I’m just saying they could. Eyes up, fellow humans.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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