Life size penalty shoot outs are automated for accuracy

Penalty shootouts are about to be transformed into a global competition, with footballers everywhere pitched against each other in an Internet league in which Omron automation equipment will ensure fair play at every location.

Dunstable-based automation specialist More Control has worked with Goalstriker Ltd to develop a 21st century intelligent goal mouth that is able to monitor and assess every players’ abilities as a penalty taker, objectively convert this into a points score and position them in the international league table.

‘Most of our work is in the industrial and manufacturing arena specialising in Automation and Inspection,’ says More Control’s managing director Ian Mordue. ‘But this development takes us into several new fields: theme parks and the entertainment industry, exhibitions and events, sports and health clubs. Premier League football clubs are even asking us to develop a professional version as a training aid for their strikers.’

Goalstriker uses a full sized goal and regulation issue football, and is usually set up in a large tent. Its automated system measures the power and accuracy of every penalty shot and awards points accordingly. Power is measured as the time of flight of the ball from penalty spot to goal line; and accuracy is related to where it enters the goal mouth–the further from the goalkeeper the better. Every player has three penalty kicks, from which an overall score is totalised.

An Omron sensor buried in the penalty spot starts the time of flight clock when the ball is kicked. The clock is stopped when the ball breaks an invisible light beam in the goalmouth. In fact the goal mouth is criss-crossed by a matrix of light beams produced by Omron photoelectric sensors, each feeding back a signal to a PLC from the same manufacturer. Wherever the ball enters the goal it will break one vertical and one horizontal beam, which become co-ordinates for accuracy.

The PLC feeds the time lapsed and entry co-ordinates onto a PC running Visual Basic, where the points score is calculated and uploaded to the league table on the Internet. In fact each players’ performance data is married up with information such as their age and gender, and they are put into the most suitable of several Goalstriker leagues.

League position data is feed back from the Internet, and all the information is displayed on Goalstriker’s giant electronic scoreboard for the player (and others) to see.

The left hand goal post has 13 of Omron’s new E3G retro reflective photo sensors mounted securely within it and the right hand post has corresponding reflectors. The cross bar carries 22 sensors, with their reflectors being buried in the Astroturf goal line.

‘We specified Omron E3G sensors because of their robustness, long range capabilities and their rapid switching time. When a world class player takes a penalty, the ball travels at over 100km/hr, breaking the light beam for very much less than a nanosecond,’ explains Ian Mordue.

‘Having decided on Omron sensors, we went with their new CPM2A PLC too. This has dual communications ports, a critical point for Goalstriker, as their machines are destined for use literally around the world and they need to be able to hook up by modem for commissioning, service, troubleshooting, reprogramming 24 hours a day from their headquarters in the UK.’

Ian Mordue’s enthusiasm for this project is boundless, as he sees many possibilities for transferring technology from industrial automation into new fields.

‘My dream, and we should have this up and running for 2001, is a robot goal keeper! The current generation Goalstriker machines have a static goalie, that does not do much (a bit too realistic really),’ says Ian Mordue.

‘We can build a man-like robot with say six or ten axes of motion and give him a vision system focusing around the penalty spot. If we take the spot as the datum and measure the ball’s position in flight at say 5, 10 and 20 nanoseconds, we can run an algorithm to predict the co-ordinates at which the ball will cross the goal line. We can then decide on a left- or right side save and set up a multi-axis motion profile to get the goalie’s hand to deflect ball away.

‘I know that Omron has the motion control kit and vision system to set this up, and More Controls is capable of writing the program. There are only two things stopping us: finding a processor faster enough and working out how the player will ever beat the goalie!’

For further information, contact:

Paul DorrettOmron Electronics1 Apsley WayStaples CornerLondon, NW2 7HF. Tel: 020 8450 4646