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Robot with Basketball
A basketball playing robot

With robots becoming more prevalent in daily life, it's not a surprise to see robots entering the world of sports. There are many robot sports that exist today and so robots are now participating in soccer, table tennis, sumo wrestling, basketball, skiing, and others. There are even stand-out robot sports celebrities like Forpheus, the table tennis robot, and Cue 3, the basketball shooting robot.

There are many features of their designs that make these robot athletes excellent players - and even more efficient than humans. For example, the basketball shooting robot Cue 3 successfully made 2,020 free throws in a row without missing. The robot was capped at this many by the Guinness World Records for time purposes. Cue 3 could make all of those shots because it was designed to reset after each throw, making it more likely to make shot after shot. The table tennis robot Forpheus' design includes multiple cameras in order to watch the ball and the opponent at the same time. This is a huge advantage over a human who can only focus on one object at a time. These features along with extensions or additions to the robot like specialized arms and hands enable it to outperform a human.

Of course, there are some features of robots that one must keep in mind when thinking about their ability in sports. For example, there are robots that exist for the sport of running. These robots can outperform a human simply because a robot will not get tired in the same way a human will. A robot will not experience muscle fatigue or dehydration. Sure, their batteries may need to be replaced or charged. However, at the end of the day, the materials that make up a robot such as plastic, steel, and carbon fiber have the ability to be stronger than human muscle.

Robots can have a human shape or be designed to be more aerodynamic or efficient than the human body. Think about a robot that would be designed for swimming. If it was designed like a human, it would be likely that it would swim slower than a robot that was more designed in a shape more like a torpedo with propellers.

The robots that exist in sports today are impressive. Think about some of the extensions and engineering that must go into the planning and design of these robots in order for them to perform well in sports.

Motivate Discussion icon Motivate Discussion - Thinking Further about Designing a Robot Soccer Player

Q: For a robot that plays soccer, think about how it would shoot the ball to score. What are some possibilities for how the robot could be designed?
A: Answers will vary, but some ideas could include the robot having some type of ball launcher to aim and shoot the ball to score. The robot could also have some type of kicking device very similar to how a human would kick the ball to score.

Q: If you had endless VEX V5 parts, what would you add to the Speedbot to make it the best performing robot soccer player?
A: Answers can include adding a launcher to shoot the ball or an attachment in the front of the robot for better ball control. In regard to playing defense or goalie, designs might include a shield or other attachment for blocking the ball or other robots.