The Illegal Robot Jockeys of Arab Camel Racing

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Did you know that remote-controlled robot jockeys have replaced human riders in traditional camel racing in the Gulf? Yeah, me neither. The bots come equipped with a little whip that can be made to spin by pressing a button or voice activation. These robots now stand in for the young children who used to be ride the camels. But that's old news, apparently. Now, it turns out that modded robots jockeys with the ability to deliver an electric shock to the camels were being sold!

Robot jockeys have been used in camel racing in the Middle East for several years following international condemnation of the use of children as jockeys, often as young as four. They allow animals' owners to remotely whip and steer the camels from the sidelines and can also be equipped with GPS and a heart-rate monitor to assess performance. However, using electric shocks on a camel is not permitted during races and anyone caught doing so can face up to three months in prison.

Read the full story at Wired (UK).

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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