The Case For Introducing Robots to the Sports World
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The Case For Introducing Robots to the Sports World

Will the future of sport contain androids?

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The Case For Introducing Robots to the Sports World
RoboCup 2014

Sports pride itself in being a showcase of humanity’s best. It’s a platform for the strongest and fastest to show what the human body is capable of achieving. Having that drive to be the best of the best is why athletes such as Michael Phelps, Kobe Bryant, and Lionel Messi have reached where they have. They’ve each excelled in their respective fields and brought out the best of their competitors. Cristiano Ronaldo even believes that Leo Messi’s success in the sport has motivated himself to perform better, and vice versa—it’s human nature.

Now apply this mentality to the field of robotics. Imagine how quickly this field could grow in the coming years if there was this same drive and motivation that we have seen in sports since it’s creation. Sports provide new physical and artificial intelligence challenges to engineers such as having to simultaneously process tons of information and have real-time analysis of the game. This is the motivation behind RoboCup: an international robotics competition akin to the World Cup(On a much smaller scale of course) Andrew B Williams, an ECE professor at Marquette University says that “through RoboCup, they[engineers and scientists] developed a lot of localization algorithms that are used in autonomous driving cars”. So these advances don’t necessarily have to be used simply as a form of entertainment, they can actually be implemented in useful technologies such as self-driving cars. Robocup is just a small part of a much bigger robotic convention. Having the headline of “robots playing soccer” gets more people interested to come out and pay attention to field of robotics.

Robotics allow us to surpass boundaries set by human constraints. If the star quarterback severely injures his leg during a game, he has to come off for treatment and his backup is forced to take over. Now the team is led by a far less capable player and is handicapped for the rest of the game. If a robotic player gets one of his legs broken during a game, it would of course have to come out as well, but now his replacement isn’t any better/worse than the original player was. There is no drop in quality or performance since robots can be mass-produced in a way that humans can never be. Once engineers begin to create bigger, faster and stronger bots, there seems to be no foreseeable peak for the robots’ talents. Soccer players tend to hit their prime in their late 20’s, let's say 27-28. For a machine, there is no peak. Every new season, an engineer can endlessly continue to build and add a new component to his bot.

Now the question becomes if anybody would even want to watch a sport where one team is comprised solely of a robotic army. To this, my only argument is this: if we can get robots to kick a soccer ball around for 90 minutes, I’m sure we could see them playing a full-on game of Quidditch in a few years—and who wouldn’t want to watch that?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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