SAN FRANCISCO--Apparently, robot field goal kickers are pretty pathetic when it comes to talking trash.
That much was clear Monday morning during a placekicking face-off between San Francisco 49ers kicker Joe Nedney and Ziggy, a 340-pound combat robot. The two bitter rivals took the field at Kezar Stadium here, the original home of the 49ers, for nothing less than the victory stand in the never-ending battle between man and machine.
Ziggy arrived at Kezar first, and had already gotten in some good practice kicks when Nedney, decked out in his No. 6 Niners jersey, strode purposefully onto the perfectly manicured grass. And within minutes, the NFL kicker was already bringing it.
"It's pretty windy out here, Ziggy," Nedney taunted the robot as he booted a few practice balls through the yellow uprights about 35 yards away. "I'm expecting [Ziggy's ball] to fly over the top of the arch [far beyond the uprights] by the way you've been hyping it."
Through it all, Ziggy said nothing, seeming to prefer to let its kicking do the speaking. And that's generally the robot's style.
"You know, the robot is the strong, silent type," said Simone Davalos, one of the organizers of the RoboGames, the world's-largest robot competition, which takes place in San Mateo, Calif., this weekend. Nedney and Ziggy were on-hand here to do a little promotion for RoboGames.
'Oh, it's on' For Monday's competition, Nedney had agreed to the proposal to kick against Ziggy from CM Robotics, an Ottowa, Canada-based team of engineers. About five years ago, the team built Ziggy, not with beating pro-kickers in mind, but actually with the idea of launching 340-pound peers in the air in battle-to-the-death robot wars.
But after years of ruling the RoboGames roost, it was time for Ziggy to take on some new competition. And that's when CM Robotics came up with the idea for today's event. And for Nedney, it was an offer he couldn't refuse.
"I got challenged," Nedney said. "I can't pass up a challenge."
The format for the day's gridiron festivities was simple.… Read more