If the picture looks faintly odd, it's not because it's a render: it's because it was taken by a scanning electron microscope and depicts microscopically-small robots playing Nanosoccer on a field smaller than a grain of rice. This weekend, the National Institute of Standards and Technology will host RoboCup 2008's nanosoccer exhibition right here at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. It'll include several events to be battled out by teams from the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Waterloo in Ontario, and CMU itself.
The 2-Millimeter Dash: Each nanobot chooses the optimal time for a goal-to-goal sprint across the playing field.
-Slalom Drill: Robots race from goal to goal while avoiding “defenders” (polymer posts) that block the path.
-Ball-Handling Drill: Robots “dribble” as many microdisks as possible into a goal within a 3-minute period.