A robot jockey is commonly used on camels in camel racing as a replacement for human jockeys.
Developed since 2004, the robotic jockeys are slowly phasing out the use of human jockeys, which in the case of camel racing in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, often employs small children who reportedly suffer repeated systemic human rights abuses.
In response to international condemnation of such abuses, the nations of Qatar and the UAE have banned the use of human jockeys in favor of robots.
The government of Qatar initiated development of the robots at the beginning of 2001.
At the end of 2003, the design, with a revised analysis, was tendered to Swiss robotics firm K-Team. Initial problems faced by the design team, led by Alexandre Colot, included the fact that the camels were conditioned to the use of human jockeys.
Early designs confused or frightened the camels. The designs were modified to include more human-like features, including a mannequin-like face, sunglasses, hats, racing silks and even traditional perfumes used by human jockeys.
Due to their heavy weight (16 to 18 kg) and high cost, the Swiss product was ruled out and replaced by smaller, lighter (2 to 3 kg) and lower-priced models in Qatar and the UAE. The robots are remotely controlled by operators being driven alongside the race track in SUVs.