Feeds

Swiss take on North America at nano-droid Subbuteo

'Sh*t, I've dropped the Annapolis football team down a drain'

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

This weekend, the city of Atlanta, Georgia will play host to an international soccer contest, in which all the players will be robots. So far, so yawnworthy - but wait. These droid sportsmen - unlike the ordinary, everyday mechanoid ballplayer - will be nanoscale ones, each smaller than an amoeba.

Now we're talking.

Droidball

Nanosoccerbot on a newspaper. It's a game of two millimetres, Ron.

The clash of the miniscule mechanoid athletes is to take place at the 2007 RoboCup*, organised by the US Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

There are leagues at the government robolympics for various more mundane mechanoids - "Four-Legged, Humanoid, Middle Size, Small Size, Simulation and Rescue Robot," according to NIST - but this is the inaugural nanodroid event. According to the press announcement:

"NIST hopes that a competition between the smallest robots in RoboCup history will show the feasibility and accessibility of technologies for fabricating MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS), tiny mechanical devices that are built onto semiconductor chips and are measured in micrometers (millionth of a metre)."

Obviously it's a bit naughty to be calling these comparatively tubby droids nanobots: they ought to be a few orders of magnitude smaller. But their weight is truly nano, being measured in nanograms, and "nano" is a much trendier word than "micro," so perhaps NIST can be forgiven.

The concept of what's actually football has been stretched a bit, too. In fact, the diminutive droids will be engaged in more of a skills test than an actual match. Events will include the "two millimetre dash", slalom dribbling event, and a ball handling contest. The "ball" is actually more like a flat puck, smaller than a disc sliced off the end of a human hair. Operator skill as well as technical puissance will be tested, too, as the microscopic players will be handled by remote control.

Five teams are entered: two from Carnegie Mellon University, and one each from the U.S. Naval Academy, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Simon Fraser University in Canada. In keeping with the modern soccer trend, the audience will watch on screen; it might be a tad difficult to make out anything from the terraces around a 2mm pitch.

The NIST annoucements clearly leave many questions unanswered. How will the competing micro-players travel to the match? Presumably in carry-on luggage, or perhaps the coach's wallet, shirt pocket etc. ("Oh no, I've dropped the Annapolis football team down a drain.")

And why are we using such a mundane playing arena? Surely the chance to insert the pitch into someone's body, Fantastic Voyage style, should have been seized. Talk about your tonsil hockey. Bend it in Beckham. Etc.

Tips for the weekend's match? Well (cough) the Swiss could be the team to watch.®

*Contracted with headlines aforethought, we suggest.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.