There’s a quaint notion floating about in the land of the internet that robots are still in a primaeval, infantile state. They’re nothing more than clumsy assemblages of useless old bits of metal, we’re told, not doing very much. But the more you look into the world of robots, the more you realise your assumptions are wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.
The truth is that robots are now individually better at most sports than humans. Take the Cheetah Robot from Boston Dynamics in Massachusetts. This little robot critter can run up to 28.3 mph on a good day. That’s faster than every human on the planet, including a certain Usain Bolt. Or what about the ATLAS robot, by the same company? This humanoid robot can skip with a skipping rope better than your average six year old girl.
But these are the extreme cutting edge, I hear you protest. This isn’t representative of what’s out there in the world of sport in general.
Sure, it’s not. These machines are one-of-a-kind and cost millions of dollars to develop. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t pulling the rest of the industry along by their coattails. Robots are invading sports in a big way. Here’s how.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Table tennis robots were once the stuff of science fiction. But now they might be making their way to a club near you. Basic robots shoot out ping pong balls in a regular fashion, allowing you to practice different shots and different swings. But there are also more advanced, experimental humanoid version out there too. And they don’t look happy. One of these humanoid robots is called TOPIO and is made by a Vietnamese company. He’s a big chap, measuring over 1.88 meters in height and weighing more than 120 kg. He’s got a bit of a brain too, thanks to deep learning algorithms. Over time, he learns how to improve his technique, based on his practice sessions.
Image Source: Wikipedia
It’s going to be some time before robots are able to take on professional human players in a game of football. But robot makers are getting closer and closer every year. And some have suggested that we might see the first all-robot football match before the 2028 World Cup.
With that said, robots are making their mark in the world of football – quite literally. There’s a robot called Intelligent One that is currently being used to mark out lines on the pitch. It is reported that the Danish invention can do the job autonomously, and in less than 30 minutes.
Robots are popular in the Far East for one reason: the aging population. It is hoped one day that robots can be developed that will take care of the elderly so that everybody else can go out to work. Now one company is doing its part to bring robots into the lives of senior citizens. The robot is called RoboCoach, and it’s leading fitness activities in several nursing homes in Singapore. The robot can show residents how to do different exercises. There’s even a slow-mo mode for people who can’t quite keep up with the pace.