Dependability between the posts
Believe it or not, the perfect goalkeeper really does exist. RoboKeeper's virtual invincibility - and his formidable reputation as the world's best penalty killer - is attributable in no small part to the TPM+ drive concept developed by Wittenstein.
Standing at over 6ft tall, RoboKeeper has none of the airs and graces of his star colleagues and never gives anything less than his all in the game. He dives into the far corner of the goal in just 0.3 seconds and holds balls coming at him at speeds of up to 65 mph. He made his debut in 2007, in the course of a nine-day event at the Ideas Expo in Hanover, facing down a total of 8000 would-be scorers. Out of 10,000 shots at goal, RoboKeeper let in just 500.
RoboKeeper was developed and built by the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) in Germany, and is basically an outsized Tipp-Kick figure mounted on a gearhead/motor combination. Above the goal are two cameras that recognise the ball and follow its trajectory. Using this data, the image processing software calculates the ball's probable point of entry into the goal. It sends this information to the motor controller, which turns the goalkeeper to the angle required to save the shot. All this takes place in a fraction of a second.
In developing RoboKeeper, the research team was advised and supported by alpha engineers and experienced solution architects at Wittenstein motion control. Wittenstein was the only supplier capable of delivering the motor and gearhead combination (TPM+ 110 with a ratio of 61) necessary to turn RoboKeeper into a true 'penalty killer'. The performance displayed by the image processing computer is no less impressive: each of the two cameras takes a staggering 60 photographs a second. Five images, which the software evaluates in a tenth of a second, are needed to calculate the ball's trajectory. The motor starts to turn just 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) after the kick has been delivered. It reaches its final speed (33 mph at the fingertips) 0.07 seconds later. This acceleration is 17 times faster than that of a Formula One racing car. The time to brake the motor from maximum speed to standstill is exactly the same, just 70 milliseconds.
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