Tag Archives: RoboCup

Silicon champions

Imagine a soccer grand final where a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots beats the latest winners of the World Cup, all within the official guidelines of FIFA.  

This is the long-term vision for RoboCup, an international robot soccer championship that highlights the latest developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics research. 

Since first entering RoboCup in 1999, UNSW’s team rUNSWift has been a consistent leader in the competition. The team, made up of a mix of the university’s top engineering students and robotics experts, has taken out five world titles, most recently in 2014 and 2015. Only one other team, Germany’s B-Human (a joint team from the University of Bremen and the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence, or DFKI) have managed to equal them.

“This is the ‘space race’ of robotics,” says Maurice Pagnucco, Deputy Dean (Education) of UNSW’s Faculty of Engineering and Head of the School of Computer Science and Engineering. “What we learn from robots playing soccer can be applied to industry and help us solve difficult, real-world problems.”  

The competition is a standard platform league of fully autonomous Nao humanoid robots, which compete against each other in teams of five. With no physical advantage, what differentiates the teams from each other is the software and AI the engineers create in the months leading up to the competition. Once the game kicks off, the robots are on their own. 

 “The design process is challenging, as we have to create software that’s robust enough to handle the different situations a soccer player may face,” says software engineer Sean Harris, rUNSWift’s successful leader in 2014 and 2015. “The robot must react quickly and effectively in a variety of unknown situations.”  

It’s this ability to respond quickly that has set rUNSWift apart from other teams competing for the world title. Over hours of simulations and machine learning tests, the UNSW squad has developed a walking code that enables the robots to walk faster than most of their competitors.  

“We start by designing the larger components, and then work our way down to the details of how each component will operate,” says Harris, who now creates software for Cruise GM’s self-driving cars. “We test several different approaches on a weekly basis and fine-tune the best for each task.”

RoboCup winners cannot rest on their laurels. Each year, the software developed by the winning team is shared with all other teams, forcing the technology to accelerate to stay ahead.

RoboCup attracts interested scouts from leading technology brands, such as Google, Microsoft and Dell. It will be held in Sydney in 2019 and is expected to attract up to 600 teams and 20,000 spectators.

– Gemma Conroy

World champions of RoboCup soccer return to Sydney

A team of Australian roboticists, who smashed their way to victory at the RoboCup world soccer championship in China for a second year running, return home on Monday and will be holding a media conference at UNSW.

The triumphant team of Australian roboticists who smashed their way to victory at the RoboCup world soccer championship in China – snatching the trophy for the second year in a row – return home on Monday and will be holding a media conference at UNSW.

The four-member UNSW team (and their four humanoid robots), who beat an elite German squad by 3-1 in a tense grand final, will be available to take questions at the media conference.

They will afterwards provide demonstrations of the robots in action in a special soccer pitch where the robots train. Also available will be video and high-resolution images of the robots and team members, as well as the team’s victorious finals match in Hefei, west of Shanghai in China, on 22 July. (Most of the team have been travelling on holidays since then.)

Event details 

RoboCup is an international competition of 300 teams from 47 counties that fosters innovation in robotics and artificial intelligence. The premier category is the Standard Platform League, in which squads compete on an indoor soccer court with robots operating entirely autonomously – with no control by humans or computers during the game. This year’s tournament was fought between Naos, 58 cm-tall humanoid robots that whose artificial intelligence and tactics were developed by young software designers and engineers.

RoboCup was founded in 1997 with the goal of developing a robot team good enough to beat the human champions of the FIFA World Cup by 2050.

You can download a map to the venue for the media conference here.

Wilson Da Silva

This article was first published by UNSW Australia on 5 August 2015. Read the original article here.