All Black Andrew Mehrtens was matched by a Massey University robot today in a man versus machine kick-off at Victoria Park.
Robo Dan was both the most consistent and the most life-like of three robots who stepped up to the challenge, which served as a precursor to the inaugural Schools Robotics World Cup to be held in The Cloud from October 11-13. The Robotics World Cup will be a three-day competition between 40 teams representing schools and universities from New Zealand and Mexico.
Associate professor Johan Potgieter said the Massey University Albany team attempted to emulate the natural movement of a leg in their design, and in this case it paid off, proving it's hard to improve on nature.
Robo Dan tied with Mehrtens after a series of conversion kicks, outshining Canterbury University’s robot Phoenix – which did extremely well with drop kicks – and Massey University Palmerston North's Woderwick, which struggled with both distance and accuracy and had to bow out after suffering a malfunction early on.
All three were specifically designed for the event, with the support of pneumatics company SMC and NZICT.
But while the end result was a draw, the robots struggled in their warmup kicks. And although machines don't get groin injuries, Mehrtens said he would still bet on Dan Carter over a bot.
He missed one shot at goal, which he said afterward he'd done on purpose.
"It's something I've been doing all my life, and suddenly you've got a robot come along who was only born a couple weeks back. It's a tough ask for them. I didn't want to make them feel too bad," he laughed.
"They're very, very human like, which means they can make mistakes just like us – so fortunately they missed a few as well."