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Robots That Play Sports – A New Day For A New Game

Posted by Flux on 

31 January 2018

Whats Trending Now

Robots – and more autonomous systems – are seeing a rise in the sports industry across various spectrums as well as with the advent of robots and systems competing against one-another in sport. This is where competitions around drone racing, autonomous cars competing against one another. Robots are being used more and more in team practices to reducing injuries.

Once an expensive novelty and now increasingly commonplace in various forms, the rise of drone racing is being taken more seriously by various stakeholders – particularly sponsors. Likened to the rise of alternative sports such as skateboarding and the X Games in the early 1990s, the idea of drone racing becoming the next big entertainment series seems likely; particularly when considering the prize money of $25 000 and upwards for the small scale races. The effect is so wide that locally there is a drone racing league based out of Cape Town, positioning themselves as the market leader on the continent.

On the subject of autonomous competitions, the likes of Roboracethe first AI driverless car race series – is showing interesting prospects. For now, a support series to coincide with Formula E global series, the prospects for such a series broadens the idea of motorsports where each vehicle will be identical in engineering capability, but are differentiated from team to team by the software developed to ‘drive’ the machines.

In addition, there is the inclusion of intelligent tech and robots in sport. In the US, Ivy League colleges are developing new technology as tools for contact – particularly American Football. An innovation from Dartmouth College designed to prevent players from incurring injuries during practice has seen the arrival of the Mobile Virtual Player (MVP). A squat foam cylinder with wheels that allow the device to travel at up to 32 kilometers per hour – around the median for NFL players. Reinforced circuits in the device allow the dummy to withstand hits from 300lb linebackers.

Why Its Important

As we edge further into an age of technology becoming more intelligent as well as more commonplace, the idea of robots autonomously competing against one-another seems likely and, in fact, is already taking place. The rise of e-sports and the like have broadened the interests of spectators as well as opening the doors for more tech-orientated sports to become more commonplace. As brands continue to investigate new channels for speaking to their customers, the sponsorship opportunities for such platforms become evident and extremely lucrative as the prominence of such grows over time.

The Butterfly Effect

With the core focus of entertainment around new innovative tech systems, one can expect big players in the AI space from Google to Facebook entering the fold and initiating sponsorship teams. Innovation and science gleaned from the engineering for these sports will filter through for more consumer products and services. A similar function has been used across the Formula 1 teams for years, using the science and engineering of racing to create increased innovation.

The Pioneers

Roborace leads the pack bringing the first fully driverless car series to life with the likes of Drone Racing Africa flying the South African flag proudly in pioneering the new and fast-growing field of drone racing across the continent.

By Jordan Major

Image credit: Digital Trends

About Jordan


Travel, in all its varied forms, is a concept that inspires and drives the ambitions of Jordan Major. From backpacking around Europe to exploring new professional territories his journey is one that knows no bounds. Having written for the likes of GQ and Between 10 and 5 this young creative sees this new chapter with Flux Trends as a way to speak to the present about the future in a meaningful way.

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