RoboCup Is The First Public Robot Soccer Game… Sort Of

Robot Football

We’ve all seen movies or games where futuristic sports make use of robotics, or even full on robots, to play the games for them. Apparently, we have begun to see a new era of robot sports…. kind of. Recently, a bunch of folks gathered together to participate and watch the â??RoboCupâ?.

This event used autonomous robots who were programmed to play soccer, though honestly, not with any real skill or ability at all, which makes it all the more humorous.

While the idea is interesting, the implementation saw about one-foot-tall robots falling down, getting up and kicking at one another. According to those in attendance, you probably wouldn’t even know it was soccer at all, if someone wouldn’t have told you before you started watching.

Alright, so robots playing sports are not ready for the big league yet, but it is still something to think about. If androids eventually were able to be built fast, strong and human-sized, would they be worth watching in your favorite sport of choice? Let’s take a look a football. In a football game, there is tons of accidents that can end quite violently, this would certainly eliminate that risk. Safety aside though, what fun is it to root for a robot?

Maybe if we wanted to return to our Roman roots and watch a gladiatorial-style games where programmers pitted their robots against each other, that might be worth watching, but the truth is that the emotional moments when a stretcher pulls out onto the field to help a player that won’t get up, or the cheering on of human players, is something that makes the game, and no robot could replace it.

If we want the human element, could robotic parts find a way into the game? Imagine your favorite basketball pros making slam dunks and throwing full-court each and every time. Sounds cool, but in the long run, it would take away the importance of skill, and instead be more about who has the best electronics under the hood.

Sure, this all sounds Sci-Fi, but it might not be as far away as we believe. Ultimately, it is probably best that sports and technology are kept separate when it comes to the ‘core’ of the game, but recent innovations in tracking technology does show that technology at least can play a helpful role in refereeing and making the right calls. For those that don’t follow, both Tennis and now FIFA soccer have enacted systems that track the ball that can be used in making tough to determine calls.

Our world is rapidly changing, and it’s hard to wonder whether technology will shape all aspects of our life or not. With the importance of computers and technology, it’s hard not to keep unaffected, but for the sake of the game, perhaps at least the core rules and the way various sports are played will not be changed by future innovation.

Of course not everyone feels this way, some of us might relish the idea of robots dominating the sports world and giving us the most impressive show to watch that we’ve ever seen. Rest assured, it’s still a ways a way, but perhaps not as far as we might like to think.

A big thanks to Elite Kicking and their Football Kicking Camp for the resources and information provided in the creation of this article.

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