Former All Black first five-eighth and goalkicker Andrew Mehrtens competed against three kiwi-designed goal-kicking robots in a warm-up to the hotly-contested Robotics World Cup, which took place in The Cloud in mid October.
The robots included two humanoid machines from Massey University’s Albany and Palmerston North campuses, the former fitted with an actual rugby boot. The third entry, from a group of Canterbury University undergraduate students, was shaped more like a small swing set, although it did have the ability to take a drop-kick as well as a place-kick, unlike the others.
Despite the disadvantage of nerves, Mehrtens was at his usual clinical best, missing only one kick, from close to the touch line. Of the robots, the booted Massey Albany machine proved the most reliable, achieving impressive distance and accuracy. The robot from Massey Palmerston North was hindered early on by an ‘injury’ (air leak) but was achieving the biggest kicks by the end of the morning. The Canterbury University machine fared okay with its place kicks, but never managed to slot a drop kick, due to difficulties matching the release to the swing.
In the end, a draw was declared between Mehrtens and the Massey Albany robot, which finally slotted a kick from wide out after numerous attempts.
The robots were on display in The Cloud in Auckland during the course of the Robotics World Cup, part of the Rutherford Innovation Showcase. Check out these photos from the event. Talk about futuristic technology! We can’t wait to see what these students have in store for us next year.