Will we really see robot referees and robot jockeys by 2030?

Gadgets, Robots

robotref.jpgWhile we’re starting to see the introduction of some technology in football in the form of VAR (video assistant referees), a new report goes much further predicting the possibility of robot referees and linesman, cybernetic clothing and vision enhancement by 2030.

Who knows, we may even see robot players some day soon-ish – at least their wages would be cheaper!

Written by renowned future gazer, Dr Ian Pearson BSc DSc(hc) and commissioned by betting company BetBright, the report also reveals that robot jockeys who have the potential to compete with and even beat the best jockeys in the world could be possible by 2025.

Indeed BetBright has announced its prototype of the world’s first robot jockey who will be unveiled at Cheltenham festival starting 13 March 2018.

According to the futurologist, following the introduction of VAR, the next step in football could well be robot referees and linesman, that would never get a decision wrong.

Dr Pearson states that the speed and complexity at which technology is developing could mean that these robot officials could be in action as early as 2030, putting an end to refereeing controversies caused by ‘human error’ that have bugged managers including Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho this season.

Dr Pearson predicts robot officials could play a big part in the future of sport, with football teams using it to work out optimal strategies for attacking and defending causing the game to evolve in totally unexpected ways.

Other developments in technology may also mean that strength enhancing leggings and cybernetic clothing could allow sportsmen and women to play and train for longer and harder, even after their body has gone past human limits.

In addition, this clothing will allow fans to interact with the player allowing them to feel the same sensations, so fans will be kicking every ball their team does in football.

Vision enhancement could be introduced within two years allowing golfers to zoom in on distant greens to help work out the contours of the putting surface and their approach shot, making for more accurate and world class golf shots taking the game to a whole new level.

In addition, VR technology will allow viewers to see exactly what the player does, putting them in the golfers shoes, creating an experience like no other.

Football playing robots in action, but would you pay to watch them?

Says Dr Ian Pearson BSc DSc(hc), futurologist at Futurizon:

“Developments in technology will mean that there will be possibilities for tech to be introduced into sport to help benefit it, much like VAR. Robots and further advancements are also possible, however, whether it will be adopted by fans up and down the UK is another question.”

The report was commissioned by sports betting company BetBright which is investing in new technologies such as using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve the customer experience.

Indeed, AI has already developed brand new strategies to beat the best Chess and Go players in the world and a ‘roborace’ between AI cars is currently planned for the near future where fans can interact with the ‘drivers’ to see their decision making process.

In 2018, the world of sport has already seen huge technological advancements, including the Ski Robot Challenge at the 2018 PyeonChang Winters Olympics which saw robots ski down a short slalom course.

Earlier in the year, a robot motorcycle driver reached 124mph on a race track. However it failed to beat the legendary Valentino Rossi’s lap time.

In football, the 10th annual RoboCup took place, 500 teams took part in the competition which features humanoid robots. The aim of the project is to win a football game against the winners of the World Cup by the middle of the 21st century.


Adds Rich Ricci, BetBright chairman: 

“While AI’s have already bested the greatest “Mind Sport” players in the world, and robots are getting closer and closer to the skills of our best motor racers, the almost visceral connection between the greatest jockeys and their horses is something very different.

“It will be fascinating to watch as AI and robotics evolve to see when, if ever, they will be able to emulate and compete with this unique emotional connection.”


Horse Racing
·        Technological advancements mean that it may be possible to build a robot jockey by 2025

·        Humanoid robot footballers with electro-polymer muscles laid over a metal or plastic skeleton may feature in robot v robot football matches by 2030
·        By 2030, a fully humanoid robot referee and linesman will be in place who will never get a decision wrong
·        Football teams will use AI to work out optimal strategies for attacking and defending causing the game to evolve in totally unexpected ways. It could even spell an end to ‘park the bus’ tactics as managers use AI to develop more optimal and aggressive attacking
·        Gladiator style robot v robot matches could take place from 2035

·        Strength enhancing leggings or cat suits could allow players to play long after their body has fallen below par could be introduced by 2025
·        Vision enhancement may be introduced within two years allowing players to zoom in on distant greens to help work out the contours of the green and their approach shot

·        Advancements in AI could be used to replicate an opponent’s skill which can be used in training by 2030
·        Tennis robots could play against each other by 2040 with technology companies showing off their skills in sensors, AI and physical agility

·        By 2030 ‘transformer’ robots that can run or change shape and use wheels or even fly will reinvigorate the sport

Fans viewing the sport
·        Active contact lenses in 2030 or even augmented reality visors in 2020 could recreate 1st person player vision and sound, so fans could get a full-sensory experience of being that player, whether robot or human. That will greatly increase sense of involvement, and team loyalty

You can view the full report here – http://blog.betbright.com/top-stories/future-of-robots-in-sport/


Chris Price
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