RoboCup: How the World Cup is changing our Future

Publisher’s Note: This week in Money Morning we’ve been featuring our technology specialist, Sam Volkering. Sam’s currently putting the final touches on a major new piece of research. The article below gives you an insight into that research. Keep your eye out on Saturday, when he will release his groundbreaking report…

One of the world’s most important competitions took place this year in Brazil. It brought people together in a way that only a competition like this can.

Countries from all over the world sent their best to this competition. And over the space of a week they competed in a World Cup of football.

I might add at this point, I’m not talking about the World Cup of football. No that’d be silly in a technology newsletter.

I’m talking about Robocup, the football world cup for robots.

Over a week in July, teams from all over the world came together in Brazil. On display, cutting edge robot technology.

You might think Robots competing in a football competition is a bit daft. But there’s method to the madness. Robocup is an annual event. And it’s getting pretty popular. The reason is every year the Robocup is on, the technology gets better.

One of the first things you notice about the Robocup is the names that back it. This year some of the headline sponsors were Oracle [NYSE:ORCL], FESTO (inventor of the Bionic Kangaroo) and our favourite robotics company Aldebaran.


Alderbaran’s NAO Robots at Robocup.
Source: Robocup.com

Click to enlarge

Aside from the sponsors, this event is all about the teams. Some of the finest Universities in the world send teams to Robocup. University of New South Wales, Aachen University and University of Pennsylvania were on the list. Even the CSIRO sent a team over for this year’s competition.

The Robocup is more than just one single event. It’s a whole schedule of smaller categories.

These categories include a contest for adult size robots. A category for child size robots. There’s 3D and 2D simulation robots. And of course the showstoppers, the Humanoid Robots.

It’s the humanoid robots in particular that we’re most interested in. You see we think humanoid robots, or home robots, are about to change the way we live in a big way.

Thousands of parts make an opportunity

All this week we’ve been writing about robots. We’ve done so because robots are about to change the world in a big way. And with it could be the biggest investment opportunity of the decade.

In the 80s and 90s we had the PC. In the 2000s and the early part of this decade the smartphone has changed the way we live.

Starting next year we’ll see the beginning of the next huge technology opportunity, home robots.

This technology will quickly go from a seemingly far-out idea to mass adoption in the space of just a few short years. And it all will kick off as soon as February. This is a massive trend we call The Hundredth Robot, and tomorrow you’ll get to hear about what it all means.

Of course this opportunity only comes about thanks to events like Robocup. And when you look closely behind the novelty factor of the contest, you begin to see why.

Take for example the humanoid category of Robocup. More specifically, the Louis Vuitton Cup. The LV Cup is the prize for the Best Humanoid Robot.

This year’s winner was the CIT Brains. CIT is the Chiba Institute of Technology, Chiba, Japan. And their robot is ‘Brains’.

This is what Brains looks like.


Source: CIT
Click to enlarge

He looks pretty robot like, but that’s just because the team didn’t bother making a fancy looking skin for him. Their focus was on the technology, which makes him exceptional. And you’ll notice from the photo there’s a lot of technology.

Brains has a main CPU that controls much of what he does. He also has another CPU for walking. Then as you can see he has acceleration sensors, servo motors, batteries, cameras and gyro sensors.

These are just some of the parts that make Brains work. In all there are thousands of electronic components that go into Brains.

Think about Brains as a consumer product. In addition to all those parts there would also be the materials that make up his chassis. We’re talking carbon fibre, LEDs, more cameras, microphones, audio systems and even more CPUs.

But what we want to highlight is the number of different components and companies that make part for Brains.

Take for instance Brain’s main CPU. It’s actually a MPC5200 CPU made by Freescale Semiconductors [NYSE:FSL].

Its sub-CPU is a SH-2/7145F made by Renesas Electronics Corporation [TYO:6723].

And some of the memory and other semiconductors are from ATMEL Corporation [NASDAQ:ATML].

Brains is just one example of the kind of robotics that is set to become a way of life over the next decade. Yet this one robot has a number of different technologies from listed technology companies in it.

What we’re trying to say is that as home robotics grows from a vision of the future, to reality, to mass market adoption, it’s going to make a lot of investors a lot of money.

Companies like Freescale, Renesas and ATMEL are the kinds of companies that stand to profit as home robotics captures the world’s imagination. It’s their components, sensors, electronics and systems that will help drive the Hundredth Robot forward.

So when you see some light-hearted report on the news about a world cup of robots, don’t dismiss it straight away.

When you look beyond the ‘light-entertainment factor’ you truly see the potential that technology like robotics has.

It will lead to a huge social change in the coming years. It will reshape how we interact, organise and manage our day to day lives.

But for investors that get in on the ground floor, for early investors, the potential for huge gains is something that might not come around for another decade or more.

Regards,

Sam Volkering+
Technology Analyst, Revolutionary Tech Investor

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Sam Volkering

Sam Volkering is Editor for Money Morning and its small-cap, cryptocurrency and technology expert. Find out what he has to say here with all his latest articles.

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