[Image from Engadget]

Standing just over 6.5 inches tall . . . Carrying a mere three rechargeable AA batteries . . . And prepared to compete against the world’s fiercest athletes in one of the most grueling physical endurance events known to man . . . Hailing from the cutthroat streets of Tokyo and sporting the aerodynamically pointed helmet we have all come to know so well, I bring you . . . EEEVOOOOLTAAAAAAAAA!!!

Earlier versions of this little guy already climbed a 1,640 foot rope dangling in the Grand Canyon, walked 311 miles from Tokyo to Kyoto, and completed the “24 Hours of Le Mans” challenge in France — driving around a track for 24 hours on a single charge of two AA’s to claim Guiness’s “longest distance covered by a battery-operated remote-controlled model car” record. The 2011 test, however, is even more difficult: the Ironman World Championship on the Big Island of Hawaii consists of 2.4 miles of open ocean swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running. Each leg will be completed by a specially-equipped robot over the course of a week, beginning October 23 [ten times longer than the human competitors’ 17 hour deadline, for a robot less than 10 times the size], and the robots will be in continuous motion for the entire duration, breaking only to recharge their batteries. Admittedly, the Evoltas are aided by floaties, training wheels, and a rolling hamster cage for the respective segments, as well as but I’m still impressed that they can keep their arms and legs moving for 160-odd hours in wet, windy, sunny, and otherwise rough conditions. They might not be the latest in AI advancements, but there’s something to be said for thwarting creaky joints and short-circuited wires over days of repetition.

Also, the beginning of this video is so hilariously classic Japanese I had to share!

Here’s the Evoltas in action at a Panasonic demo [swimming at 2:20, biking and running starting at 8:36]. I’d totally wear one of those Evolta racing jerseys on my 10-minute-mile runs through the park . . .

And I know, I know, we’re all impressed with the technology but I have to say it . . . they’re so cute! Watching the Le Mans, between the wobbly pedaling Evolta and the team’s ecstatic reaction to crossing the 24-hour mark, I can’t help feeling all warm and fuzzy inside — it’s way better than any baby animal montage.

The creator of Evolta, Tomotaka Takahashi, designs all sorts of really cool, mostly humanoid robots, from the soccer-playing “Vision” to the sexy, hip-waggling “FT [Female Type].” You can see the full lineup at his company site, ROBOGARAGE.

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