Tag Archives: RoboCup

RoboCup 2015 kicks off in China

An American team beats an Iranian squad 5-4 in this year’s RoboCup final. 

Hot on the heels of its Women’s World Cup victory, the United States has another piece of soccer hardware to add to its collection this year. That’s because a team of American humanoid robots have defeated an Iranian squad in the finals of the 2015 RoboCup held in Hefei, China.


For those unfamiliar with the event, RoboCup is an annual international robotics competition that was first proposed in 1995 and founded in 1997, bringing together engineers, students and Makers alike as they compete against one another via humanoids on a small-scale, artificially-turfed indoor football pitch. The ultimate goal is that one day maybe, just maybe, they will be skilled enough to beat an actual soccer team.

The “players,” which vary in shapes and sizes, are divided into one of eight divisions. Some require the competitors to develop robots with the same hardware and different software, while others call for the machines to be built from scratch.

When robots initially began playing soccer, it was a feat in itself just to have them see the ball, let alone stay upright and kick. Nowadays, these bots are capable of autonomously running up and down the field, scoring goals and even sensing when the ball is nearby. However, as you can see from the video below, they’ve still got some ways to go before they get past Tim Howard or Hope Solo.

This year’s showdown attracted over 300 teams from 47 countries, with a group from University of Pennsylvania (named THORwIn) beating a team from Iran in a tight-fought 5-4 battle between adult-sized bots. What’s more, RoboCup’s opening ceremony featured various robot technologies, while two banners for the occasion were held by drones.

[Image: IB Times]

GOOOOOAL! Soccer robots score on humans at RoboCup

Now in its 18th year, the RoboCup is an annual robotics competition that pairs teams of bots against each other to compete in the game of soccer. As previously discussed in Bits & Piecesthe ultimate goal of the tournament is to develop a robotic humanoid soccer-playing robot by the year 2050. And from the looks of the GIF below, we may be closer than ever before.

In what may be perhaps the most exciting game each year, RoboCup features a robot-on-human matchup to give a sense of what the current state-of-the-art in robotic soccer truly is, and how it stacks up to a team of moderately-talented humans. Sure enough, every once in a while, the robots score a goal on the humans, just as they did this year in the GIF below.

aug 04, 2014 08-54

IEEE Spectrum‘s Evan Ackerman gives the play-by-play on how the goal went down:

[T]his play was very far from dumb luck: Tech United Eindhoven’s robots made a pass, the striker robot looked at the goal and saw a defender in the way, decided not to shoot, made a pass instead, and the wing robot put it right into the side of the goal. Most of the humans weren’t particularly aggressive, but the defender dude looked like he was actually trying pretty hard there, and he couldn’t stop the attack.

Though this may not be the first time robots have gone on the scoreboard against humans in RoboCup, it is imperative to note that the goals are getting much more impressive because the robots are indeed getting better. So just how close are we before a team of microcontroller-powered creations can defeat a team comprised of flesh-and-blood Beckhams, Messis and Howards? As IEEE Spectrum sees it, these mid-size robots could be potentially defeating a determined team of humans on a small field within the next decade.


Will robots take home the gold in 2020?

Recently here on Bits & Pieces, we covered the RoboCup where a group of inventors and their robots gathered in Brazil to compete in a global soccer tournament. It seems as though the robot invasion into the sports realm is not stopping there. With Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympic games, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared his wish for robots to compete in a similar competition.

“In 2020, I would like to gather all of the world’s robots and aim to hold an Olympics where they compete in technical skills,” Abe noted.


While Abe’s admiration of robotics may be a way to promote Japan’s burgeoning robotics industry, a global robotics competition surely could prove to be a success. As evident with the RoboCup, the event was a massive hit gathering over 550 teams from 45 countries.


To further show the imminent robot takeover, a Korean baseball team recently installed three rows of robotic fans at their stadium. The Hanwha Eagles of Daejeon’s new AI fans could chant and even do the wave, according to BBC. The robot supporters even came equipped with LED screens that had the ability to receive and display text messages from fans.

Are robot fans and athletes just a current technology fad, or are they truly the Michael Jordans and Lionel Messis of the future? Only time will tell!

Watch out World Cup, here come the robots

Great news for soccer fans: The World Cup won’t be the only event taking Brazil — and the global stage — by storm this month. Kicking off in little over a week, robots from 45 countries will gather in João Pessoa to compete in the international soccer tournament known as RoboCup.

Founded in 1997, RoboCup is an annual international robotics competition aspiring to promote robotics and AI research by offering a publicly appealing, yet formidable challenge. The ultimate goal? To beat the human World Cup champions within the next 35 years.

When robots initially began playing soccer, it was a feat in itself just to have them see the ball, let alone stay upright and kick. Nowadays, these ‘bots are running up and down the field, scoring goals and “sometimes they’re so fast, you can’t even understand what’s going on,” says tournament co-chair Esther Luna Colombini.

The “players,” which range from life-size humanoids to soccer ball-sized wheeled gadgets, compete in size-based divisions on miniature indoor pitches.

According to Forbes writer Jeff Bercovicithe tournament (a perfect blend of athletics and Maker Movement) has matured throughout the years. The inaugural event hosted 38 teams from 11 countries; this year’s tournament will feature 550 teams from more than 45, competing in various divisions.

Humanoid robots which were produced from 2005 until now are seen during a photo opportunity at the Institute for Computer Science at the University of Bonn in Bonn

“You don’t program humans to play soccer,” said Sean Luke, a computer science professor. “We want (robots) to learn how to play soccer the same way humans learn how to play soccer.”

While certainly fun to watch, organizers say the annual competition isn’t just about creating kickin’ machines — it’s about teaching the fully-autonomous robots to make quick, smart decisions while working together in a changing environment.

“Those algorithms can translate off the field into technology like self-driving cars or delivery drones, said University of Pennsylvania engineering professor Dan Lee. RoboCup includes separate contests for service robots and search-and-rescue droids.”


Whether you’re predicting the German or Argentine squad to win this Sunday’s World Cup final, one thing is for certain: The team will be made of flesh and bones, and not powered by microcontrollers. By 2050, that may all change.

After Tim Howard’s incredible, record-breaking performance earlier this month, it makes you wonder if robots have already arrived!

Learn more about the upcoming event, which is scheduled to run from July 19 to 25, by visiting the event’s official website. In case you missed it, RoboCup was also recently featured in our Maker-themed infographic.