Tag Archives: Soccer Robots

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.

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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.

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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.