Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

All Black vs robot in Cup challenge

It's no Terminator robot, but a high-tech robotic leg is going to test the All Blacks during a special Rugby World Cup event. Photo / File
It's no Terminator robot, but a high-tech robotic leg is going to test the All Blacks during a special Rugby World Cup event. Photo / File

Three robots will test the boot of former All Black Andrew Mehrtens in a man versus machine goal-kicking challenge during the Rugby World Cup.

Andrew Mehrtens will face off against three robotic legs to see if a human or electronic boot can get more goals between the posts.

The robots are being developed by three New Zealand universities and will square up with the rugby star in Auckland's Victoria Park.

The challenge's organiser, Chris Hamling, said the three robotic legs and Merhtens will take kicks at goal from various angles and keep going until a winner is declared.

"We're playing as close to the standard game as possible so we'll start off as if a try has been scored directly between the posts and then the [player] and robot operator will go to the left and the right of the post at certain intervals. The winner will be who converts the greatest number," Hamling said.

Despite Mehrtens' skill, Hamling was positive one of the robots would come out on top.

"I think its going to be a very close run as I have a lot of respect for [Mehrtens] but I'm confident the universities will pull it off," he said.

One of the robotic limbs, from Massey University's Albany campus, is modelled on a human leg and will also have a human-like torso attached to it.

Hamling said at this stage there are no plans for rugby players to use the robots to improve their kicking style, but said this is something they could pursue.

The event is not the first time a sports-person has faced off with a robot; in 2009 a Japanese wrestler was knocked out after a bout with a robot half his size.

The Auckland challenge will be held on Monday October 10, the first day of the term three school holidays.

The contest runs alongside the Robotics World Cup, an event for high school and university students running in the Cloud at Queens Wharf from October 11-13.

- NZ Herald

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