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You may have thought that robots like Johnny 5 and Wall-E were just made up characters for the movies, but it seems that robots are becoming more and more advanced by the day. Its true, robots today cannot only play soccer, but they have their own World Cup called Robot Soccer World Cup aka Robocup.
There are definitely two front-runners when it comes to advanced robots, Sony and Honda.
Sony's QRIO, aka Quest for Curiosity, is about 2 feet tall and weighs in at 16 pounds. Do not underestimate these wee guys, they are able to run, recognize faces and voices and therefore record different people's likes and dislikes. To me, by far their greatest skill is dancing! These little robots can remember complex dance routines as seen in Beck's music video "Hell Yes." There are only 4 QRIO in the world, so here's hoping there will be more in the future.
Honda's ASIMO, aka Advanced Step Innovative Mobility, is around 4 feet tall and weighs in at a hefty 119 pounds. This robot really brings the idea of "I,Robot" to life. The ASIMO unlike the QRIO is reproducing at a faster rate with 46 models completed. This robot can do some pretty impressive things: it can recognize 10 different faces and address them by name, it can run 6mph, it can climb stairs, it can connect to the internet providing information on demand, carry on a conversation, and adapt to a range of environments. Guess what else? It can dance! What's the point of making a robot if it can't boogie? You may have already seen ASIMO on the Honda commercials.
These amazing robots are being developed as part of the plan in the future to make them available for the disabled. Plus did I mention they could dance? Check out the QRIO and ASIMO on Youtube.
Robot Soccer World Cup was founded in 1993 by Hiroaki Kitano to spread the word of robotics to a wider audience. The event aims to get the viewers and younger generations interested in becoming involved in the field of robotic research. Every year teams come back with new and improved advancements to their robot players.
You may be thinking "Humans controlling robots not that impressive," well you'd be wrong! Once these robots hit the field there is no human intervention, these robots make all the decisions. They decide when to pass, dribble, shoot, and block. They even express the corresponding emotion based on the crowd's reactions. These robots can feel both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
I find myself shouting at these robots when they get the ball to "Kick it! Score!" and when they get knocked down "Hurry up! Get up! Get that dirty beggar that knocked you down!" It's hard not to get drawn into the game because of the unpredictability. As I stated before, the robots are all individual. Believe it or not, they each have a unique playing style and personality (some more aggressive than others).
There are 11 different events at RoboCup:
* RoboCup Soccer
o Simulation League
o Small Size League
o Middle Size League
o Standard Platform League
o Humanoid League
* RoboCup Rescue
o Rescue Simulation League
o Real Rescue Robot League
* RoboCup Junior
o Soccer Challenge
o Dance Challenge
o Rescue Challenge
There are no robots in this league; it actually looks more like a video game. The game takes place on a screen and the audience can watch the match as they would watch one on TV.
Small Sized League
Robots in this league must adhere to 18cm diameter and 15cm height restriction. An orange golf ball is used for the game and only 5 robots are allowed on the field. Two overhead cameras control the robots, these cameras help process their next moves.
Middle Sized League
Similar to the small sized league, the middle-sized use an orange FIFA size 5 ball and only 5 robots are allowed on the field. This league uses wireless communication and color recognition technology, there is also no human intervention allowed anymore at this stage.
Standard Platform League
All teams use identical robots in this league, but they are allowed to possess different software. The robots used here are usually 4 legged that look like little dogs.
This league uses fully automated 2-legged robots. The robots here play not only soccer matches, but are compete in technical challenges as well.
Rescue Simulation And Real Rescue Leagues
In these competitions, robots must scour a disaster area locating victims in need of help. They must navigate through debris and rubble to find victims using cameras and sound recognition. The robots will also assess signs of life and then create a map of the victims various locations to bring back to human rescue workers.
RoboCup Junior is for elementary and middle school kids who custom build their own robots using LEGO Mindstorm Kits.
--The Goal Of RoboCup:--
Of course, receiving a shiny trophy and being crowned World Cup Robot Soccer champion is great, but that is just a bonus for this tournament. The main goal of RoboCup has always been to create a team of fully automated humanoid robots that will not only play against, but also defeat the FIFA World Cup champions in 2050. That would be some game to watch don't you think?
After viewing RoboKeeper videos on Youtube, I must say I was quite impressed. However, if those videos are any indication of the level of goal keeping the 2050 FIFA World Cup champions will have to compete against, they have no chance!
In 2009, Robocup will be held in Graz, Austria. The competition will run from June 29th - July 5th. The competition will be fascinating, learning about all the advancements teams have made to robots in the past year. 3000 people will attend Robocup with over 40 different countries hoping to steal the title. Some countries competing are: The United States, Japan, Singapore, Australia, China, Iran, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Finland, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom, Sweden, France, Spain, Russia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil. This competition is also the place that the most advanced models such as QRIO and ASIMO are first unveiled.
RoboCup is not only entertaining to watch, but overall I think it is a good cause. If jetting away to Austria seems a little extreme to watch the Robot World Cup then I suggest heading over to Youtube or http://www.robocup.org/02.html for more information and videos.
(Also posted on squidoo.com)