Thursday, October 20, 2005

A New Spin on Foosball.

It looks like Foosball may have a high tech challenger. Firebox is now selling a product called "Mr. Soccer Robot Football" which includes a full set of remote-controlled soccer players that you (and your friends) can drive about the course. It looks like an intriguing use of the devices, and certainly points towards a more and more widespread acceptance of technology in our sports and games.

Of course, this isn't real robot-soccer since it's remote-controlled by the user and doesn't do any decision making on its own. I've been following Robot Soccer off and on for the last half-decade or so, and it has really developed as a sport in its own right. I'm not sure if the RoboCup goal of a fully autonomous andriod team capable of beating humans at soccer by 2050 fill be hit, but each new addition to the sport is another small piece of that puzzle.

Mr Soccer Robot Football product page []

Mr. Soccer Robot Football Japanese Telivision Commercial (.wmv) []

Mr. Soccer has been sold in Japan for over a year now, and hasn't turned out to be very popular. My wife bought a set for me as a Christmas present last year, and we played with it for a while, but then it ended up gathering dust on the shelf. It would make a good party game and attention getter.

As you point out, it isn't real robot soccer since the players are R/C controlled. It's actually even more limited since the foot kicking is generated automatically by a ratched cam on each drive motor. You can get a feel for how it works (or doesn't work) here:
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