Lots of humanoid walking robots are not only good at walking and talking -- they're also good at running, balancing, and the kind of coordinated movements made in group settings that would let teams of them perform together in sporting events, or even dancing. Several of our sports robots have won regional or worldwide acclaim in the RoboCup soccer World Cup, or FIRST Robotics competitions. Others, such as the world's first hockey-playing robot, Jennifer (you can watch her in this video), have won platform-specific competitions like the DARwIn-OP Humanoid Application Challenge, where engineers contend for prizes awarded to the most innovative applications.
Robots designed for interaction with humans can also play sports either in teams or alone. One of the most unusual we found is the trash-talking, Scrabble-playing Victor the Gamebot. Not all of these look humanoid except in their general shape. The winners of this year's RoboCup Middle Size league designed by a Dutch team look nothing like humans: instead, they resemble some kind of alien pyramids hovering just above the ground.
Click on the image below to see these robots on their respective fields of play.
The classic case of robots playing sports is the RoboCup soccer World Cup, which has several different leagues. Teams participating in the Standard Platform League, where all teams use the same standard platform robot and focus on software development. The current platform is Aldebaran Robotics' Nao. This 22-inch-tall, friendly looking bot moves fluidly on its own with 25 degrees of freedom (DOF), avoids obstacles, responds to voice commands, and learns to recognize faces, voices, and shapes, among other talents. Aside from electric motors and actuators, it also has an extensive sensor network. This includes two cameras, four microphones, nine tactile sensors, eight pressure sensors, an inertial board, a sonar rangefinder, and two IR emitters and receivers. For communication it's equipped with two high-fidelity speakers, a voice synthesizer, and LED lights. Nao is fully programmable using software developed by Aldebaran. Other RoboCup leagues include different robot platforms classed by size. The ongoing RoboCup World Cup contest is aimed at developing a team of fully autonomous, cooperative, humanoid robots that can beat the best human soccer players -- and reach that goal by 2050.
(Source: Aldebaran Robotics)
Great slideshow Ann. Most of the robots are involved in soccer, so the Jennifer Robot was a very great innovation in 2012. I loved it then and i still have the same feelings for it. It's been two years now and we should have seen a 2.0 version of the robot by now. I think there are still a lot of things to improve on. That being said, after two years the robot is still a great example of good engineering
Daniyal_Ali, I looked for more info on updates of the Jennifer robot on the U of Manitoba Autonomous Agents Laboratory website, and all I found was this, a few months after her introduction: "Our work on Jennifer since this debut has included better control and balancing, and work on using both ice skates and inline skates." But some press articles indicate she --along with a companion robot, Jimmy --now plays several other sports aside from ice hockey.
Ann, what we like about sports is the randomness factor. Say one is watching football (American). Once one team has the game out of reach of the other, the game becomes uninteresting. I was watching the Denver San Francisco game last night. In the fourth quarter both teams put in their backup QBs. I think most people just turned it off (I switched to an interesting program on PBS).
So, my question is, are the robot contests predictable?
These sports events remind me of NASCAR and Formula 1 racing where large companies will sponsor a team and then take the technology break-throughs and apply them to industry applications. I can see where the technology advancements developed at these events will eventually be incorporated into industry and military robots.
Great slide show. It's amazing to see the various design solutions to answer the question, "Can robots play sports"? The engineering that went into these agile machines is quite impressive. I didn't know Murata had a robot cheerleader (boy and girl) to participate in the Robocup sporting events. What great inspiration and motivation to begin the research and projects development for my robotics book I'll be writing for O'Reilly Media. As always, great material Ann.
Very interesting observation and question. How does the crowd respond when a robot team has a significant point spread? Does the crowd leave in disgust because of the lost by their robot team or do they continue to cheer them on?
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The Thames Deckway would run for eight miles close to the river’s edge, rising and falling slightly with the tidal cycle. It will generate its own energy from a series of devices that will line the pathway and use a combination of sources to make the path self-sustaining.
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