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How is Volkswagen helping kids get on the field before U.S. Soccer games?

Answer: With robots!

A kid standing beside the CHAMP robot with medical equipment on their other side.
PHOTO BY JASON NUTTLE
Jason Nuttle/Jason Nuttle Photography
This year, young U.S. Soccer fans from around the country who can’t be there in person will get the chance to walk out on the field with the players before the game thanks to a new telepresence robot. Called CHAMP, the robot was custom-built by OhmniLabs in collaboration with Volkswagen in order to expand U.S. Soccer’s player honoree program.

Through this program, kids get to join the players of U.S. Soccer teams on the field for the playing of the national anthem before matches. But there are some kids who would love to participate but can’t be there in person, for varying reasons. Enter CHAMP, who will allow them to do so via telepresence, standing in for them physically while they participate virtually.

The CHAMP robot’s design was inspired by Volkswagen’s ID.4 electric vehicle. It has an LED light system, front grill cover and sleek and aerodynamic body style. The robot will allow 11 kids to participate this year, the first of which will be Luna Perrone on July 1 at the U.S. Women’s National Team Send-Off Series match against Mexico in Connecticut. Perrone, a young soccer fan who was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, last year, will get to virtually join the team on the field before the game. She’ll also be able to meet some of the players, including her personal hero and inspiration Alex Morgan, a two-time FIFA World Cup champion and ambassador for Volkswagen.

“The CHAMP project with OhmniLabs brings the excitement of being on the field with U.S. Soccer to some of the most passionate young fans who might not otherwise get the experience,” said Kimberley Gardiner, senior vice president of marketing for Volkswagen Group of America, in a press release. “We see this as a creative expression of our core mission – applying advanced technology and making it more approachable.”
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