Robotic goalkeeper could flush humans out of the game

Posted by on November 9, 2012 in GAA, Skill development, Video

Two Japanese firms that actually share the same name have teamed up to do something unthinkable. They created a robotic goalkeeper.

Well, that isn’t terribly unthinkable, I suppose, but the fact that they made it out of a toilet is a little unfathomable.

The device is actually kind of ingenious. When a player kicks the ball, the SGTK (an acronym for Super Great Toilet Keeper) gauges the speed and distance of the incoming object and then fires its own ball out of the toilet basin. That ball follows an intercept path to deflect the soccer ball away from the goal.

In the video, it’s an impressive set up that’s sure to get a plumber’s heart racing.

Now of course, this is kind of a joke project, something done for fun to have a laugh. The company that made this also created a toilet-styled motorcycle, after all.

And although the limber loo seems unstoppable,  its not hard to spot see some of its football flaws.

  • The ball-launching john has to be reloaded, so it can’t stop follow up shots that have been recovered from a rebound.
  • It appears to be only able to defend when the ball is launched from the white circle on the field. That’s like saying you always have to stand directly in front of the commode when you wee. It’s no fun if you can’t test your accuracy from different angles and distances!
  • The SGTK may not be able to block a shot that flies in extremely close to the device. Although perhaps it would just rotate with its lid up and use that to block.
  • I also wonder how it might handle a ball that’s bouncing. Could it calculate the erratic nature of a ball that’s skipping along and losing velocity?
  • It doesn’t have any ability to recover the soccer ball and pass it to one of its non-commode teammates.

Despite all those issues, I can’t help but wonder how such a device might be useable for hurling or gaelic football.

Just think, it could:

  • Operate as a goalkeeper when none can be found, after all, no one really wants to be a goaltender.
  • Serve during practices and drills to help players develop their goal-scoring shots. They just need to remember to put the seat down when they’re done.
  • Save valuable game time by having a throne right on the field. (No more racing to the Port-A-Potty near the concession stand!)

Of course an SGTK would have to be entirely reconfigured to be used in a hurling setting. Hurling balls are much smaller, of course, but they also move a lot faster than a soccer ball. Maybe the SGTK could fire out a Frisbee-sized disc instead of a ball? Even better, have it fire a urinal cake — it would intercept the sliotar AND leave the field smelling fresh.

And converting the SGTK to gaelic football? No problem since it’s functions wouldn’t be that much different than it is in a soccer setting.

Even the cost is relatively club friendly. You can get one built for 600,000 yen, which is a little less than $8,000.

But then the question lingers — like the funk of Mexican meal on the way out — is $8,000 too much for a goal keeper or would we be flushing our money away?

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