I wouldn’t put it past Teppeki-kun.

For quite some time now, we have had robots that could display lightning fast reflexes and react to motions and images faster than a human eye could perceive. Fortunately, this has so far only had implications for paper, rock, scissors, and most popular sports have been spared robotic domination.

For example, if someone were to use the same high-speed image processing in the paper, rock, scissors robot and apply it to, say, a football goalkeeper, it would be unstoppable. And that’s just what sports tech firm Air Digital set out to do by creating what they playfully call a “S.G.R.G.K.” or “Super Great Robo Goalkeeper,” which is a nod to S.G.G.K. from Captain Tsubasa.

Captain Tsubasa creator Yoichi Takahashi tried an early version of this robot keeper himself back in 2015

After years of development, they are now beginning to roll out what they have officially named Goalkeeper Teppeki-kun, where “teppeki” means “iron wall” in Japanese. Unlike other robotic goalkeepers, Teppeki-kun utilizes advancements in AI to boast a compact size and efficient power consumption, which allows it to be easily installed and used at most venues.

It also has a wide range of settings and functions. The difficulty can be adjusted to one’s choosing, all the way up to a 99 percent blocking rate. Meanwhile, the Automatic Level Adjustment Mode can determine a suitable difficulty based on an analysis of the player’s shooting. In addition, there is a Miss Mode, in which Teppeki-kun will intentionally take a dive once or twice, just so you don’t feel too bad.

▼ Teppeki-kun is also immune to dirty looks, scowls, and even stink-eyes

Teppeki-kun will measure shot speeds and provide video replays when desired. It’s even equipped with an accident prevention protocol that stops it from colliding with players in a potentially injurious situation.

Its debut has been scheduled for the grand opening of Sports 60 & Smart on 28 April in the Ario Washinomiya mall in Kuki City, Saitama Prefecture. This sports center was developed by Air Digital and features an array of AI-equipped sports training facilities across a range of sports such as baseball, cycling, and archery.

Air Digital is planning on renting the systems out to other venues too, so be sure to keep an eye out for Goalkeeper Tappeki-kun or some of their other equipment in the future at a location near you.

Unfortunately, this also means that humans’ days of enjoying soccer are numbered. Once Skynet goes live and strikers everywhere get their spirits crushed by an army of AI keepers, our last hope will be to capture a Teppeki-kun unit and send it back in time to find a young Pelé and convert him into an ageless cybernetic scoring machine.

That, or we could just take our balls and go play somewhere else… But I still vote for an immortal cyber-Pelé.

Source, images: PR Times
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