The Real Winner of the Tour de France? Chalkbot

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The Tour de France will be winding up this week, after more than three weeks of high winds and even higher mountains. The grandaddy of all bike races has entered the final stages and – sadly – it looks like Lance Armstrong’s comeback will fall short of a top podium spot on the Champs-Élysées.

But a robot attached to Armstrong’s cancer charity, Livestrong, is making a big impact at this year’s race. The robot, affectionately known as Chalkbot, has been taking the age-old Tour tradition of writing messages on the road to new levels. This wonderful piece of technology uses 48 nozzles that spray an emulsified chalk on the street. (Watch the embedded video to learn more about how Chalkbot works.) These messages offer words of support for Tour riders, honor for cancer survivors and more. While Chalkbot is similar to previous projects used by artists and activists, it is still fun to see robotics in action – especially at major sporting events.

By tour’s end, Nike & Livestrong believe they will have chalked more than 100,000 messages on the roads, avenues and highways of France (and Monaco, Spain and Switzerland). But there’s still time to participate – text or twitter your message to be chalked onto the roads of the final stages today!

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