Not exciting but interesting.
I did not know about these.
UNSW's robotic team, named rUNSWift, won all but two of its matches,
with the opposing team in some cases unable to break through the Aussie
team's defence to make a single goal. The rUNSWift team only lost
against the first- and second-place winners, UT Austin Villa (University
of Texas at Austin, US) and B-Human (University of Bremen, Germany)
and, even then, only by a single goal.
The robots themselves have come a long way from when they first
began. First-year PhD candidate Sean Harris, who flew to Mexico for his
second RoboCup representing UNSW, recalled that the robotic soccer games
from just four years ago were almost frustrating.
"In 2008, the first year using the Nao platform, none of the robots
could walk properly and nearly all of the games were 0-0 draws," he
"One of the only goals in the tournament was because a robot ran out
of batteries, fell over and knocked the ball into its own net," he said.
"This year, we saw games with as many as 13 goals being scored, so it's
definitely come a long way."
The robots are now advanced enough that robotic goalies block, squat
and even dive for balls heading for the goal posts. There are times
where robots shunt each other, knocking each other down, but there's no
room for faking injuries for these plastic players. The robots are
coordinated enough that they can self-right themselves without any human
The robots are also able to communicate with each other, sending
information about what they can see, identifying the ball or an opponent
and using that information to form gameplay strategies.
"The robots are essentially talking to each other and can make
informed group decisions about things. They have a belief model about
where the ball should be, and where their teammates and opponents are
positioned, and they move based on this," Harris said.
Of course, not everything goes to plan, and at times the playing
field is reduced to robots falling over each other, which is
entertaining for its own sake, and reassuring that players like Ronaldo
will still have at least a few years left in their careers.
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