GIFs of robots playing sports are both impressive and fail-tastic

29 Feb 2016

While we’re all fearful of robots taking over our jobs, spare a thought for the multi-millionaire sports stars to whom they are catching up fast in many cases, but completely failing in others.

When you think of it, robots playing sports seems like an excellent test of a developer’s creativity and concept when the key skills needed are perception, agility and calculation, which, it has to be said, hasn’t been particularly obvious to see from existing examples.

At least, that’s been the case for some time, until we recently saw the Boston Dynamics robot, Atlas, impressing everyone with its agility and box manoeuvring skills.

Future Human

Although the abuse poor Atlas received makes you feel sorry for the hunk of bolts, sensors and wiring, some futurists probably believe it’s best that we get our frustration out now before they take over the world like something from The Matrix.

So, to honour some robot ‘mad skillz’ here’s some amazing (and hilariously bad) GIFs of robots trying their darndest to play sports.

Starting with what inspired this list in the first place, earlier this month, you might have seen a golfing robot called LDRIC achieve a pretty spectacular hole-in-one on the PGA tour on a par three hole. Sadly, the robot couldn’t celebrate with a Tiger Woods-esque fist pump.

Without a doubt, football is where all the hilarity is. Sure, a static robot can hit a golf ball, but what about the intensity of a robot football pitch? They don’t cope very well, as it turns out.

Robot goal line

Via Imgur

Via Dorkly

Robot goalkeeper

Via Imgur

But then one of these robotic goalkeepers pulls off an astounding save that would make Manchester United’s David de Gea stand up and take notice. Although its moves are … unorthodox.

Save of the century

Much like golf, basketball also seems to be a sport robots could excel at, if they’re willing to stay completely still and play with a tiny hoop.

Sometimes, though, efficiency and accuracy makes a fast-paced game like table tennis into a really boring sport once robots get involved.

Watch out for this Tony Hawk wannabe, though.

And, last but not least, possibly my favourite gif ever and the attitude of every sporting robot out there to you and your pooh-poohing of sports being dominated by robots of the future.


Robot cycling

via Imgur

Robot holding thing that looks a bit like an American football image via Horia Pernea/Flickr

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic