Robots are becoming increasingly important in our society and will also have a huge impact on the world of sports. We discuss 10 ways how sports will be affected.
Don’t confuse Robots with Artificial Intelligence
Lets first get something out of the way. A lot of people confuse Artificial Intelligence with robotics but let’s get thing straight, they are not the same! Robots are programmable machines that can carry out a task or program. They are physical devices capable of movement and use sensors to communicate with the physical world. In contrast Artificial Intelligence is a technology that can perform tasks rationally as if it is using (hunan) intelligence for taking decisions. For this it uses complex algorithms. Good examples are speech recognition, face recognition, natural language processing, etc.
AI not necessarily needs to have a physical presence or being able to move. Where the two are merging is in the field of Artificial Intelligence robots. These are the robots which are smart and can adjust to what humans want. It is the overlap between these two fields, an overlap which will become eve more important.
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Advantages of robots are numerous
The time that robots were just steely creatures moving clumsily has far gone. Look at the video below. You can barely claim, this is a robot as we used to comprehend it. This Disney robot moves like a human, doesn’t it?
As robots are becoming ever more intelligent, certainly the ones that are using Artificial Intelligence, they will be able to take over a lot of human tasks. Let’s briefly look at some of the advantages.
- They are quicker, do not need to take breaks and don’t get distracted
- They are more consistent and don’t need to divide their time
- They always deliver great and consistent quality as they are programmed to do so
- They are safer, especially in hazardous conditions
- They are cheaper and more productive (24/7)
- They are doing boring repetitive stuff that humans hate to do.
Where there are advantages, there are obviously also some disadvantages, which can be summarized as follows:
- They require a huge upfront investment
- They may result in job losses. However, there is plenty of evidence these will be compensated by job creation in other fields
- They are less intelligent than humans. This gap will however become smaller over time as the new generation of robots is self learning.
It seems without a doubt that the advantages are far bigger than the disadvantages and is seems fair to say that robots will play an ever more important role in our lifes. The new generations Z and Alpha are already used to interact with technology and won’t have any difficulty integrating robots into their lifes. Even some lonely senior citizens seem to be happy to interact with humanoid caring robots.
10 ways how sports will be impacted by robots
The world of sports won’t escape this trend and actually is already integrating robotics. Whether you are a trainer, a player, a club, fan, viewer, stadium owner or groundsman, you too will be affected by present and future robots (most of them equipped with AI). Below we discuss 10 applications in sports where you may find robots being frequently used in the future.
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1. Stadium logistics will hugely benefit from robots
Both front-end and back-end logistics in stadiums will be hugely impacted by robots in the future and it may be sooner than you expected. Imagine yourself on your way to the stadium in a self driving car (which is a robot in itself) with a smart navigation system. Your car is parked automatically after you have been dropped in front of the stadium. That should make your traveling experience an awful lot more pleasant and it saves you the walk from the parking space. Moreover this way queues will be avoided both when you enter and leave the stadium.
Crowd management systems will be connected to ensure a perfect travel experience to your seat. Replenishment of kiosks inside the stadium will hugely take place by robots both before and during the game. This process will be largely automated in order never to be out of stock.
Also interesting to read: the top 10 basic features of future stadiums
2. Fans will get a better stadium experience.
Imagine a future where robots equipped with the latest Artificial Intelligence will guide you inside the stadium and deliver you with the latest info or just entertain you. Imagine robotized kiosks which will quickly deliver your oder or just drones delivering your order straight to your seat. It will again reduce waiting times and queues. It may sound a bit artificial, but you will get used to it.
3. Sports retailing: backend largely robotized
Order fulfillment and stock management will be fully automated and largely done by robots. Sensor embedded shelves will track inventory and in time replenishment. Obviously, this will require huge investments, which might well result in only the bigger players surviving.
Also interesting to read: 10 important future trends in sports retailing
4. Robots will be ideal training and coaching sparring partners
Robots will be ideally suitable for training and coaching purposes. In fact, there are already robots which serve as ideal dummies in for example rugby or American Football. This way injuries are being avoided! Similarly in the video below you see a robot boxer, that is an ideal sparring partner and which is helping you improving your move.
5. Robot referees are a matter of time
What to think of robot referees? Certainly in combination with sensors and Artificial Intelligence, a robot will be much more precise and accurate than a human eye ever can be. Clearly the robot referee is still some time away as long as human behaviour and conduct cannot be interpreted properly, but this is a matter of time. Until that time, robot linesmen and referees will particularly be used to assist the referee in making “measurable” decisions.
6. New sports coming to the fore: elite athletes vs robots
It will be a matter of time before the first robots will challenge humans in playing a game of soccer or any other sports. Look at this video where a tabletennis player is having a training match with a robot. Sports is the ideal development tool for robotics. An athlete always strives towards performing to the max, whereas robotics want to exceed human capabilities.
It will be great to see humans battling robots in the future and as long as humans will win, it will attract plenty of fans. We have seen what happened in chess, where it took a long time before AI (admittedly not a robot) defeated the human world champion. The next challenge is human movement combined with the human mind embodied in a robot, beating top athletes.
8. Robots will lead to a better viewing experience
Drones equipped with AI can be used to choose the right camera angle (in fact they are the eyes in the sky flying along with the action) to display on the viewers’ screens. As the video below shows, this can provide some breathtaking views. From an outdoor perspective, events will be covered much better with the assistance of drones. Just think a minute of what the possibilities are. Watching live sports no doubt will never be as it was before. I can’t wait!
9. Robotic groundsmen and greenkeepers
Groundsmen, I am sorry but your job will be taken over in the future. Mowing grass and marking the field are tasks a robot can do far more efficient and they do already exist. But besides these tasks, an entire range of other greenkeeping/groundsmen tasks can be taken over by robots.
What to think of robots equipped with sensors that monitor moisture, length and areas of repair? That will allow for better playing surfaces! Some clubs even use automated pitch protection and irrigation. Or what about weed extermination? Robots can do it! Ballpicking on a driving range? Robots do it best at any time in any weather. Raking bunkers? Ofcourse! The possibilities are endless….it will bring down costs significantly and hence it is inescapable
10. Robotic bionic bodyparts are a matter of time
As I explained in my blogpost the bionic athlete will be there. Robot limbs are a matter of time, certainly when such a robotic limb can take over that of a natural bodypart. When injured, a replacement by a robotic limb might even be an improvement in the far future. If money can buy you improved bodyparts etc, the importance of just raw talent and physical ability will decline. It could potentially lead to an arms race unless regulations will restrict this, but as I explained, this is not as easy as you would think.
Also interesting to read: 10 strong reasons why the bionic athlete is not far away
Robotic drones will become household tools
Drones are like flying eyes. They are already making a huge impact on society and the sports world forms no exception. In fact, the combination of surveillance from the sky, movement, data collection, Artificial Intelligence, lifting power and cameras make a drone ideally suitable for all kind of different applications in sports. Some of these apps should be seen as disruptive, others are totally new and give sports additional incentives.
So what you should think of? Game and training analytics. From the sky it will be easier to determine patterns, which besides game and training analytics will also be helpful in refereeing. But there is more! Drones can provide entertainment and also better security in stadiums. And what about new sports such as drone racing and drone surfing. See the video below. Last but not least, imagine you are running, canooing or cycling through nature followed by your own drone that is recording your venture. Just like a go-pro, but this time from the sky.
Also interesting to read: 10 ways drones will impact sports