7 Sep 2011

Goal-kicking robot vies for fans' attention

7:09 am on 7 September 2011

A human-sized goal-kicking robot and interactive installations on the rugby fans trail in Auckland are two novel ways the education and technology industries are trying to grab the attention of Rugby World Cup visitors.

The industries are among the 18 sectors that are part of the Real NZ Showcase hoping to cash in on the worldwide focus on the event.

Engineering students at Massey University's Albany campus are making a man-sized steel leg which will ultimately be able to kick a rugby ball.

Massey's associate professor of engineering Johan Potgeiter says the robot will be dropping kicking balls over a goal outside The Cloud venue on Auckland's waterfront, highlighting not just the Rugby World Cup but the country's first Robot World Cup.

He says the aim is to show robotics has come of age in a country where the high tech sector is the second biggest exporter.

Mr Potgeiter says the project has possibilities for companies such as Gilbert which could use the robot to test all their rugby balls in the factory, because a robot would bring repeatability and reliability to testing.

Meanwhile, Auckland University is running a lecture series linking sport with business and science. Its showpiece is interactive installations where dancers leap out of shipping containers.

Leading the project is Uwe Rieger from the university's school of architecture who says it highlights an innovative, creative sector and, importantly, gets university departments working together in the community.

Tertiary Education is worth $2.5 billion to New Zealand and is the country's fifth largest exporter, attracting more than 90,000 international students every year.

The first interactive display will take place on Friday, while the robot will debut at the The Cloud on 1 October.