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Sunday, August 21, 2005

In Qatar, Robot Camel Jockeys Replace Young Boys

Pressure from human rights groups has led to a ban on the use of young children as camel jockeys in the Middle East. But government officials in Qatar tried something different. In early 2004, they hired a Swiss robotics corporation called K-Team to build mechanical jockeys. Trial races involving 10 robotic riders were held this July and they will be used in regular races when the camel racing season begins in October this year. Project leader Alexandre Colot says creating the robots was quite a challenge.

"It's completely a new development we have done for this project," Mr. Colot says. "There is very hot temperature, a lot of humidity, sand, and very high shocks and acceleration, because we are on top of a camel which is quite a very fast animal, running around 45 kilometers per hour. So we have completely developed something with a human shape, except for the suspension, which is used from a mountain bike."

Human riders have no suspension at all. They often fall from their precarious perches, and many break bones. But injuries are only a part of the suffering these children endure. Boys as young as two are kidnapped from neighboring countries to become jockeys. Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney says they are treated as slaves. Read More ....

Source: Voice of America | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: Qatar, Camel Races, Child Abuse, Robot Jockeys | Permalink

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