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Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition

The Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to sports and sports fitness, general fitness, bodybuilding, nutrition, weight loss, and human health. Here, you'll find everything from nutritional information and advice about healthy eating to training and exercise tips for improving your overall well-being.

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Advanced Tech Births Some Sports, Ruins Others

Posted February 25, 2015 1:13 PM by HUSH

The effects of modern technology on our most popular sports are well recognized. New eras of analytics have changed the ways players are valued. Smartphones and every other connected device offers fans accessibility at the most remote locations. Materials advancements, biometrics and healthcare innovations keep athletes healthier and safer. Simply put, the insane dollars earned by major sports enables them to make state-of-the-art advancements at every turn.

And now technology is improving(?) even the fringe sports. The innovative use of carbon fiber to design football and hockey pads has translated into the revival of an ancient sporting spectacle long thought dead. A new era of space accessibility has led to a new, remote venue for vehicle racing. And autonomous cars may replace the, uhhh…beloved (language), personalities of motorsports.

Here are three examples of sports being changed by the technology that changes us.

21st century gladiators: steel, sweat and carbon fiber

The sports superstars of ancient Rome were the gladiators: slaves and condemned individuals who were purchased, then trained to fight wild beasts and each other for the bloodlust of the Roman population. Politicians and the aristocracy used the gladiatorial games to distract the republic from social misfortunes and to celebrate holidays. These events have been well-chronicled by movies and television in recent years, so I don't think further explanation is needed.

However, the Australian-based Unified Weapons Master promises to be the weapons combat equivalent to mixed martial arts. Combatants are outfitted with an advanced carbon fiber suit that protects the individual and minimizes the impacts from blows. Carbon fiber has excelled as a replacement for plastic in hockey and football pads in recent years due to its strength and light weight. Each body panel also contains sensors and accelerometers with live data links to scoring computers. Since there won't be any blood (or therefore loss of life) it will be tough to distinguish who wins, but the associated sensors and systems will employ a health bar representation like in video games. (This perhaps is the only drawback.)

UWM plans to have its first competition in 2015. From what I can tell, they're not accepting applications. Aspiring gladiators might have to trains with Nerf swords and trash can lids for now.

The first race on the Moon

Moon rovers don't garner a lot of interest, what with Mars being the "it" celestial body. Unfortunately Soviet and American rovers never met for a quick, Cold War sprint across the lunar landscape, but private rover owners plan on holding the first race on the Moon in 2016. These owners are competing for the Google LUNAR X prize, which is $30 million dollars dispersed to teams who "land a robot on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth." First place gets $20 million; second place a mere $5 million.

Eighteen teams are in the hunt, and five are considered serious contenders to claim the prize by the deadline (end of 2016). Two of those teams announced that they have agreed to jointly send their robots by Space X Falcon 9 in 2016, where the robots will then race to deploy and cover the 500 meters first. Other engineering teams will likely join the launch to decrease costs.

This year they're bringing Battlebots back to TV. Merge them with racing lunar rovers, I think we have the next iteration of robot combat sports.

Autonomous NASCAR?

I'm not a huge fan of motorsports, but I can definitely admire the stamina and determination it takes to be a race car driver (You gotta drive real fast and turn to the left sometimes.). I think the large draw for motorsports is the engineered machines that fulfill our need for speed and gas fumes.

The market for autonomous cars is clear, but how will it affect motorsports? Since 2004 DARPA has held several races for autonomous vehicles, but they're more about seeing where the technology is at, rather than competing. In 2012, Audi said its driverless systems were only slightly behind the track times of human drivers. Last October, a Slashgear editor raced Audi's latest self-piloted race car and won, but only because Audi engineers held the car back. Finally, just last week, an autonomous car beat the track time of a human driver.

Does this mean a wave of human versus machine car races? Or perhaps completely autonomous car races? At what point do we lose interest in car racing because the human element to the automobile no longer matters?

While modern day gladiators get radical armor, and robots get flung to the Moon for space-based racing, the edge of car racing might get dulled quite a bit.


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Re: Advanced Tech Births Some Sports, Ruins Others

02/25/2015 5:24 PM

As to the "Gladiators" I would like to see a set of carbon fiber Rockum-Sockum-Robots go at it, as the plastic ones did not hold up well.


Join Date: May 2015
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Re: Advanced Tech Births Some Sports, Ruins Others

05/29/2015 4:09 AM

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