Panasonic Robot Mascot Launches Battery Powered Swim Challenge

Panasonic Corp.’s dry cell battery-operated robot, Mr. Evolta Neo, is to get wet for a swimming challenge to set a world record.

The small humanoid, powered by just two AA-size batteries, set off on an epic journey leading up to the challenge at a ceremony at the company’s battery plant here on Sept. 25.

Mr. Evolta Neo will swim on a surfboard for 2.5 kilometers from Hiroshima Port to Miyajima island in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, home to the Itsukushimajinja shrine, a World Heritage site, according to Panasonic.

The endurance swim is expected to take about three hours. If successful, it will be recognized as a new Guinness World Record for a robot powered by dry cell batteries.

Mr. Evolta Neo will put its swimming skills to the test on the morning of Nov. 10 after a 400-km walk from here to Hiroshima over 47 days.

The robot will ride on a surfboard lying face-down and propel itself forward by rotating its arms, guided by an infrared ray beamed by Panasonic staff.

During what could amount to a sink-or-swim challenge, the batteries will not be switched, nor will the robot be repaired if it is damaged.

The electronics company has held similar events since 2008 to promote its batteries.

The first challenge was climbing a 530-meter sheer cliff in the Grand Canyon in the United States, a feat undertaken by a predecessor of Mr. Evolta Neo that took six hours and 46 minutes.

The robot also set a Guinness World Record in 2009 by completing a 24-hour endurance run at a circuit in France.