Nissan have made a name for themselves as the pioneers of the robotic frontier in their industry. With previous articles exploring door-slamming robots and superspeed mini-car washes, it was high time for an update. This time, the self-driving slippers and self-queueing chairs also take a (figurative) hand. By incorporating its ProPILOT technology, Nissan have created a robot that literally draws the line at soccer.
Unveiled at the final match of the UEFA Champions’ League in Kiev this year, Nissan’s Pitch-R robot is a battery powered, independently mobile, unmanned, capsule-like vehicle with one goal: chalking soccer pitches. (In an admittedly ‘wind it up and let it go’-kind of way.) By using GSP positioning software and ground-mapping systems, the four eyed robot scans for suitable open spaces to accommodate five-a-side, seven-a-side or eleven-a-side play.
Pitch-R’s collision avoidance system will steer it neatly around any obstacles and it makes short work of uneven terrain. Using an eco-friendly, water-soluble paint, it can draw pitches on grass, tarmac or even gravel. Its only limitation is that the space offered be large enough to contain a professional-sized pitch.
Probably you shouldn’t forget to turn it off at night. Especially if you happen to live nextdoor to a park or an airfield. (Or a cemetery.) Especially considering it can take as little as 20 minutes for Pitch-R to mark-up a full-sized pitch. You might wake up to find nothing but soccer fields as far as the eye can see. And no robot.
Speaking on the subject, Nissan’s corporate vice president for marketing and brand strategy, Roel de Vries, said Pitch-R was an effort to support grassroots soccer development. “The UEFA Champions League features the best footballers in the world. But all those star players started out like every kid – using jumpers for goalposts and chalk to mark lines wherever they could find open space to play the game they love.”
Pitch-R is, unfortunately, a prototype and not yet for sale. Nissan promises they are in the final stages of development and will be able to field soccer-ready robots by the 2019 UEFA Champions’ League. However, the same ProPILOT technology that enables Pitch-R also graces the European versions of the Nissan LEAF and the Nissan Qashqai. With any luck, we will see some trickle-down to their South African counterparts in the near future.