Humanoid Robots Play Soccer With a Goal in Mind

Can a team of soccer playing robots beat the best human soccer players in the world?  And can they accomplish that feat by the year 2050?  Each year a soccer tournament for robots is held to determine the best robot team in the world.  Eventually, the plan is for the best humanoid robot soccer team to play the best human soccer team.

The annual RoboCup competition features humanoid robots trying, and sometimes failing, to play the beautiful game in a series of soccer tournaments.

The official goal of the project:

“By the middle of the 21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official rules of FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup.”

Last month, a team of US robots defeated their robotic counterparts from Iran in the finals of the RoboCup.  Currently, the robots play soccer under a heavily modified set of rules to accommodate the state of robotic technology.  Rule changes are incorporated into the competition to push the technology and make the league play more like the real world of human football.  There is a roadmap that outlines how the robot teams finally get to 2050.

Humanoid Robots Playing Soccer

Two humanoid robots search for the ball in the Robocup

The most interesting of these RoboCup competitions occur in the Humanoid League.  The robots in this league are required to have a body that is like a human in that it has a head, two arms, and two legs.  And, the bots can only use sensors that allow them to move and perceive the world around them like a human counterpart would.  That means they have to do things like see the soccer ball, figure out its trajectory, and sense the environment around them without the assistance of some of the advanced sensor technology commonly found in today’s robots.

RoboCup is an international robotics competition originally conceived in the mid-1990’s and officially started in 1997. The overall goal is to promote robotic technology and artificial intelligence research.  This is done through a sports framework in order to appeal to the public.  The name RoboCup is a contraction of the competition’s full name, “Robot Soccer World Cup.”   There are several other divisions in the competition that include contests in rescues and other areas.  In 2014 the world’s competition was held in Brazil. RoboCup 2015 was held in Hefei, China.

Given the ambitious goals of the RoboCup, do you think there is a chance that they succeed in producing a team of humanoid robots that can beat the best human soccer players?  Let me know what you think.

Source:  Wikipedia

Source: Watch adorable humanoids battle for the robot soccer world cup – CNET

Source: US beats Iran in robot soccer final

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