Archive for May 6th, 2008

Robot-Goalkeeper Technology: Germany’s Latest Invention to Stop Luca Toni… Meet Goalias

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

There could be tough times ahead for Luca Toni. The Bayern Munich striker, just recently crowned Bundesliga champion and currently leading the scoring charts with 21 goals, may soon be confronted with an unsurpassable obstacle… of the robotic kind. Its name is Goalias (or GoalIAS if you prefer), and it’s the first robot-goalkepeer capable of defending a regular-sized football goal.

IAS stands for Institut für Automatisierungs und Softwaretechnik (“Automation and Software technology Institute”, or something along those lines) and is the University of Stuttgart department responsible for the creation of the mechanical goalkeeper. If you’re thinking about a cyborg with a humanoid shape though, you’re way off. The robot in question is simply a cardboard on wheels, shaped in the form of a goalkeeper and moving alongside a track placed on the goal line. The real engineering marvel of GoalIAS comes from its three videocameras and computer processor, calculating with lightning-fast velocity (under 400 ms in fact) the best position to make a save every time a shot is taken.

It works like this: the player takes a shot, the cameras (placed on top of the crossbar) analyze the trajectory the ball is taking, and relay the information to the central processor. The computer then calculates the best position to make the save and moves the “goalkeeper” accordingly. All this is done in under 400 milliseconds.

GoalIAS was recently tested by somewhat of a VIP of German football, namely currently 2nd-ranked Bundesliga topscorer Mario Gómez (I guess Toni was unavailable). The German International took a series of shots on net, and it turned out robo-keeper saved 50% of Mario’s efforts. I bet he wasn’t bragging too much at practice the following week…

Anyways, after Mario Gomez the next test of ‘robo-keeper’ is set for May 22. This time GoalIAS will be facing the German Women’s National football team. Who knows? Perhaps by that time the robot (already in its second version) will have been perfected even more.

Italian Players Around the World (5/05)

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Continuing my weekly article inspired by Gazzetta dello Sport, here are the performances of all Italian soccer players operating in foreign European leagues.

Based on Gazzetta’s info, there are currently 22 Italians playing in first divisions abroad, and 9 of them stepped on the field this week-end.

The table below includes the team the player belongs to, their opponents for the week, the number of minutes they played, their contribution (goal, assist), and the final score of the game.

Player Team Opp. mins. Contrib. Score
Carlo Cudicini Chelsea @Newcastle (bench) / 2-0
Massimo Donati Celtic @Motherwell (bench) / 2-1
Luca Toni Bayern M. @Wolfsburg 90 / 0-0
Fabio Cannavaro Real Madrid @Osasuna red card / 2-1
Giuseppe Rossi Villareal Getafe 80 / 2-0
Christian Abbiati Atl. Madrid Recreativo (bench) / 3-0
Gianluca Zambrotta Barcelona Valencia 90 / 6-0
Enzo Maresca Sevilla Valladolid 60 1 assist 2-0
Morgan De Sanctis Sevilla Valladolid (bench) / 2-0
Emiliano Moretti Valencia @Barcelona (injd.) / 0-6
Stefano Sorrentino Recreativo @Atl. Madrid 90 / 0-3
Damiano Tommasi Levante Espanyol (injd.) / 1-1
Fabio Grosso Lyon @Nice (susp.) / 0-0
Flavio Roma Monaco @Lens (injd.) / 0-0
Graziano Pellè AZ Alkmaar / SEASON OVER /
Roberto Mirri Mons @St. Truiden 90 / 1-1
Alessandro Pistone Mons @St. Truiden 90 / 1-1
Stefano Razzetti St. Gallen Sion (bench) / 1-2
Andrea Guatelli FC Zürich @Basel (bench) / 0-4
Stefano Napoleoni Widzew Łódź Sosnowiec 90 / 0-1
Ivan Pelizzoli Lok. Moscow Luch Energiya (bench) / 2-2

Heroes of the week

No goals for them (actually even an -undeserved- red card for Fabio), but plenty to celebrate for Mr. Cannavaro and Mr. Toni: Real Madrid and Bayern Munich were crowned respectively La Liga and Bundesliga champions this week. Joining the fun, Mr. Maresca who provided good passes an an assist in Sevilla’s 2-0 match vs. Valladolid.

Luca Toni, age 30 Fabio Cannavaro, age 34 Enzo Maresca, age 28