Australia’s Newcastle University is looking to defend its title in the four-legged division of RoboCup in Atlanta in July.
In the four-on-four competition, puppy-sized robots play each other with only their masters’ programming to guide them.
Michael Quinlan, who leads the Newcastle team named NUbots, will head to his sixth world championship this year, having led Newcastle’s victorious RoboCup campaign against the University of NSW in Germany last year. The team recently returned from Hanover where they were beaten by a German team in a warm-up event to the main tournament.
“Last year, our main secret was ball control – we had much better skills with the ball than pretty much every other team,”
Dr Quinlan said.
Teams in the tournament are all given similar units to work with and program the robots’ artificial intelligence systems to improve skills such as response time and ball control. The robots operate autonomously, with no assistance from their owners either on the field or remotely. Using optical recognition to locate and move towards the ball, engineers can only sit and watch in frustration as their creations attempt to make sense of their state of play.
Four-legged soccer is just one of the competitions in the RoboCup carnival. The RoboCup tournament organisers say they hope to have a team of humanoid robots which can beat a FIFA World Cup winning team by 2050.
The tournament is aiming to build on IBM’s 1997 effort, in which it defeated Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov with its supercomputer Deep Blue.
Related inks: Official RoboCup site