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Robot Soccer On A Grain Of Rice

Robocup Nano Field

By Evan Ackerman

This is a photograph of a soccer field for robots, part of the RoboCup games taking place though July 10 at Georgia Tech. There are various size brackets for different robots to compete in, and this particular field is smaller than a grain of rice (each of the ‘defenders’ are about the width of two hairs), designed to challenge robots smaller still, called nanobots. Nanobots generally weigh in the tens to hundreds of nanograms, while your average grain of sand is a hefty three hundred thousand nanograms.

The Nanobots face three challenges (while spectators watch under microscopes):
-The 2-Millimeter Dash:
Each nanobot chooses the optimal time for a goal-to-goal sprint across the playing field.
-Slalom Drill: Robots race from goal to goal while avoiding “defenders” (polymer posts) that block the path.
-Ball-Handling Drill: Robots “dribble” as many microdisks as possible into a goal within a 3-minute period.

Here’s a video of a Swiss nanobot practicing the ball-handling drill:

VIA [ USA Today ]