Robot Dog Showdown

In the future, dogs will be more clever than ever.

Oh, sure. The Jetsons had Astro. But he never learned to play soccer like these robotic dogs.

CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports that for students at Atlanta's Spelman College, the real kick is competing.

"When we see our dogs compete, it was like watching our child go to their first day of school," says Spelman student Ebony Smith.

The dogs "see" the ball through infrared sensors and a color camera.

A memory stick — programmed by the students — does the rest.

Every dog has its own code, depending on its position — and a goalie is different than an attacker.

Over time, this team, the "Spelbots," got good at it — and very competitive.

"You have four going against the other four," says Spelman College student Aryen Moore-Alston. "It's head to head. People are screaming. They want their dogs to win. You want your dogs to win."

Spelman's robotic team has opened up the playing field as the first all-female squad, and the first from a historically black college ever to qualify for international competition.

So in Osaka, Japan, robots of all shapes and sizes, representing colleges in 35 countries, competed in a soccer championship called the Robo Cup.

Suddenly little Spelman College was playing the big dogs. Sometimes bigger is better — and the Spelbots lost.

Professor Andrew Williams, the Spelbots coach, doesn't plan on giving up anytime soon.

"Oh, yeah, we're competitive," Williams says. "In five years, we plan on winning the Robo Cup competition."

So don't let the cute factor fool you — for the Spelbots, it's dog-eat-robotic dog.
  • Gina Pace

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