Robot soccer teams from over 40 countries participated in a robotic football World Cup tournament this week in The Netherlands.
They may not be Christiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, but they sure put up some good games to marvel upon, said Robocup organizers. RoboCup is a tournament like the Football World Cup, only humans are replaced by robots.
The RoboCup 2013 saw robot soccer teams from over 40 countries taking part in the tournament held last week from June 26 through June 30 in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
The organizers hope to have a robot football team ready by 2050 that can compete against a human football team. This human team won't just be any team but the winner of that year's FIFA World Cup.
"By [the] mid-21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win [a] soccer game, complying with the official rule of the FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup," RoboCup organizers said on the competition's official website.
For the time being fans will have to make do watching humanoid teams play each other. Currently, these humanoid robots are not ready yet to play humans at the international level, reveals Marcell Missura of the University of Bonn to the Associated Press. Missura's NimbRO team of three-foot-tall soccer-playing robots won last year's RoboCup "teen" humanoid division in Mexico City. According to Missura, against the current skill sets of a humanoid, even a three year old can win.
The participants of RoboCup are divided into several divisions like smaller and larger non-humanoid robots, virtual robots and of course, humanoid robots. Each of these divisions is further grouped down to "sub-leagues." The organizers plan to eventually "merge the techniques" mastered in each competition class "into a single squad of all-star androids capable of one day winning a man vs. machine matchup," the Associated Press reported.
The tournament is not being used just as a competition but gives contenders the opportunity to trade ideas with leading experts in robotics from around the world.
"It's definitely more than the time on the playing field. It's a great learning experience for everyone on our team," University of British Colombia team Thunderbolt's co-leader Andrea Palmer told The Vancouver Sun. "We brought two first year engineers ... and they actually got to sit down with the second best team in the league and talk through all of their code and all of their electronics and they learned a lot from that."