Robotics learning

Robots in Sports – From Training to playing, how robotics is shaping the future of sports

Last Updated on 20/02/24 0
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Can you make a football goal post that detects when a ball passes between the poles? Or a basketball hoop that sounds when the ball passes through the ring?

Well, these are the smart sports projects you can make at home using Havi’s DIY Object Sensor Projects Kit. But Robots have gone way too far in sports. Intelligent robots have entered into professional sports much before several other domains of our lives.

How are robots used for sports?

Starting from sports instruments with sensors, you can see robots playing the sports, coaching the players, umpiring the match, entertaining the audience, record keeping the events and managing the grounds. There are several ways robots help in sports.

1. Robots in sports training: Robots can be training partners for athletes. They help players practice and improve their skills in various sports like table tennis, soccer, or golf.

2. Umpire Assistants: In some sports, robots help umpires make better decisions. For example, in tennis, they can show where the ball landed, making it easier to decide if it’s in or out.

3. Athletic Assistants: Robots can help people with disabilities play sports. Specialized robots can assist in wheelchair basketball, allowing more people to enjoy sports.

4. Ball Retrievers: In tennis and other sports, robots can fetch balls quickly, so players can practice without someone constantly picking up balls.

5. Spectacular Performers: Some robots, like Boston Dynamics’ Atlas, can do amazing things like parkour. These performances are like a show and inspire people about what robots can do. This blog discusses 8 robots and robotic systems that are being used in sports playing.

Robots are becoming more and more important in sports, making games more fun and helping athletes improve their skills.

8 Examples of sports playing robots

1. Atlas – A robot doing parkour and Gymnastics

Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot is like a superhero in the world of sports robots. It can do amazing things, like jumping and flipping over obstacles, just like a parkour athlete. You might have seen a video of it doing these cool moves, and lots of people were really impressed. This robot is not only fun to watch but also shows us how smart and agile robots can be. It’s like having a robot gymnast, and that’s why we included it in our list of awesome robots in sports.

2. Toyota cue series – The basketball playing robot

If you aim for the hoop with the ball, what are the chances you will make a goal on the first shoot? 100%? Great. How about 2 goals consecutively? And 5 goals in five shots? How about 10?

Getting difficult, no? But not for Cue 3 and its earlier and latest versions of basketball playing robots made by Japanese auto giant Toyota.

The Cue 3 has successfully aimed for the hoop for 2000 times without a single failure. Yes you read it right, two – thousand- times.

So dribbling and running along with other teammates are past for robots. Basketball seems one of the sports where robots have become way too good. But read on further before concluding that.

3. Kuka: Table Tennis playing robot

A month back a video surfaced over the internet where a humanoid plays table tennis exceptionally well against a human player and outclasses the opponent. Eventually several videos have come on youtube. But it’s important to know that all of them are FAKE. Visual artists would pick footage of a match between two humans and will replace one of them with a robot using the software.

But yes, Kuka has made a class. A table tennis playing robot that actually plays against a human. Check out the video below.

There is also a marketing video created by the Kuka Robotics where Table Tennis Maestro Timo Boll has been playing the game against the robot.

4. Badminton playing robot

The court is ready, the racket is ready to smash and the shuttle is ready to fly. You are excited to play a sweating game of badminton….. But….. where is the opponent?

No worries, here is a robot that plays badminton efficiently against a human player. This can be a great badminton playing companion and a trainer too.

This box with a robotic hand holding a racket does not match with the perceived Look of a robot. But when it comes to efficiency, well, check it yourself.

5. RoboCup – The football tournament for robot teams

Yes, not just one robot playing football but an entire tournament with multiple teams and robot players.

You believe Artificial Intelligence and Robots are very new things but no, the first RoboCup was held in the year 1997 and since then it has been organized consistently. Every year robotic researchers and enthusiasts launch their robot team in this soccer tournament to test their AI and robotics skills and to meet and exchange thoughts with other like minded people.

RoboCup has recently introduced Humanoid games and with other events added like Rescue missions too.

RoboCup with Humanoid

6. Bola – Cricket bowling machine

Bowling machines are very old in cricket. But we are talking about Robots.

Checkout the Bola TrueMan, a robotic bowling machine that has an LED display. This machine smartly bowls to the batter at a different pace, line and length to mimic an actual bowler.

Now you know why 200 out of 20 overs has become a normal in cricket?

7. Robots doing skiing

Kim Dong Uk is so excited about robotics in sports that he organized a skiing competition for robots. Those slopes on ice and controlling the speed with least friction can be challenging and sometimes devastating for experienced skiing professionals too.

But checkout how robots are learning and enjoying skiing in South korea.

8. Cassie – The runner

Cassie is a runner, the runner robot. It is legged and not wheeled. And it can finish 100 meters in around 24 seconds. Not very impressive running record. But it’s learning and may surpass the world champion sooner or later.

Apart from these 8, a lot of research is happening in these and other sports as well to get help from artificial intelligence and robotics to make the sports better.

One last question before we end. For these amazing sports performances of robots, would you clap for robots or their creators? Don’t forget that.

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