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

Robots Make a Difference in Science and Technology Education


Photo Credit: Nic McPhee

The question of how to help American students succeed in high tech subjects continues to be on the forefront of public discussion nationwide. One of the answers is occurring on a regular basis in communities across the country. Robotics intrigues students in a way that only a few topics can. In a recent era, space exploration held this fascination for young people and inspired a generation to take on science and engineering. Now, it appears robotics is at center stage for many students. The photo above is from a robotics competition held at the University of North Dakota. In this contest, the robots are programmed to act as sumo wrestlers. The robots push each other until one is shoved out of the ring.

Robotics classes are becoming more common in schools and robotics competitions are sweeping the nation. There are many types of competitions with acronyms such as FIRST or BEST. Take the following article in the San Antonio Express News about the local BEST competition. Students spent six weeks building robots to undertake a complex task centered around the theme of Bugs! Forrest Mims III, an amateur scientist who writes a column in the San Antonio Express News, states that robotics may be the key to improving education, especially in science and technology. You can read the full article at the link below.

The educational performance of US students has fallen dramatically in recent decades. Parents and educators can help reverse the tide by involving their students in robotics and science fairs. See for details about BEST.

Robots help teens learn about science
San Antonio Express
Sat, 29 Oct 2011 00:29:04 GMT

Boeing Awards Grant to San Antonio FIRST Robotics Team

This article came across my news feed for robotics, and since it is about a local San Antonio, Texas school and a rookie FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics team, I thought I would post it here. Boeing has become a major supporter of FIRST robotics teams here in San Antonio.  In fact, they are supporting three FIRST robotics programs in the city this year.  The other Boeing teams are at John Jay High School and Edison High School. 

The local FIRST Robotics kickoff occurred here this past Saturday, January 9, 2010, at Memorial High School in San Antonio.  St. Anthony was one of 22 teams at the event and is a part of a growing contingent of teams in San Antonio.  With the addition of St. Anthony, there are now eight active FRC teams in the city.  Other SA teams not already mentioned are located in the Edgewood School District, and also at the STEM Academy at Robert E. Lee HS, Brackenridge HS, Sam Houston High School, and Milton B. Lee High School.

Around the world, there are 58 local kickoff events held. The San Antonio event is just one of those that mark the official start of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) for about 1800 teams worldwide.  For more information on teams and the kickoff, see the information on kickoff events.

"St. Anthony Catholic High School has announced that its Technology, Robotics and Engineering Sciences Club (TRES Club) was recently awarded a $6,500 Founder's Grant from the Boeing Co. to participate in a regional robotics competition to be held April 1-3 in Houston."  For more information click on the link below.