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RoboCup 2001 Underway 62

Posted by timothy
from the take-photos- dept.
Dan B writes: "RoboCup 2001, the fifth international competition, is underway. The competition is held from August 2nd through the 10th at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington, USA. International teams compete their autonomous soccer-playing robots in three different leagues including Sony Legged League (remember the cute puppies?). The competition is open to the public, so if you happen to be near Seattle, check it out."
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RoboCup 2001 Underway

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  • After recalling some of the complaints expressed in last month's article BYO BattleBot [slashdot.org], let's hope this event isn't usurped, commercialized and consequently ruined by Comedy Central.

    Though I have to admint, it might be interesting to put a few BattleBots in the stands to give the event the look-and-feel of a soccer riot.

    • No, let's hope it exactly gets battle-botted.

      Soccer matches do not have the raw Darwinian drive to perfection necessary to provide me with my own personal R2 unit before I die. As someone who makes his living in a non-English speaking country, I WANT my own protocol droid, dammit, and I want it SOON, if not now.

      Let's face it. If Team Gizmo goes to compete, and GizmoBot misses a point, they're going to go out drinking later and talk.

      However, if Team Gizmo goes to compete, and the StripeBot rips the living fur off of poor little GizmoBot, leaving him to howl and scream as he goes into that long night, Team Gizmo ain't going drinking later. No, they're taking their butts back to the lab to make "the MogwaiBot: Midnight Buffet and Swim."

      Enough iterations of that, and pretty soon I'll have my very own protocol droid, courtesy of Riff.

  • Here in England, professional soccer players often earn in excess of 50000GBP per week. Thats around $75000 a week.

    Imagine if we could create a race of perfect robotic soccer players. It could render the human players obsolete.

    It would be more entertaining to watch the robot players (especially if they have flamethrowers like on robot wars).

    We could change the rules to make it more interesting, and all that money we now spend on inflated wages for soccer players could go to a worthy cause, like helping the homeless, or fighting gun crime in inner city areas.

    Oh well, back to building my new PC [adequacy.org]

    • Not replace. Mix. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jeko (179919)
      No, no, no. You should have paid more attention in your Lit courses.

      People watch sports and movies because they "identify" with their heroes. Watch a boxing match. See how many people move like they're the ones fighting? Been to an actual ball game lately? Ever notice how many beer-sodden wretches actually think they're part of the game? You know why you like sex scenes in movies? Because deep down you sort of believe that you're the one getting laid.

      Now, if you replace the human players with bots, you really discourage identification. The whole thing devolves into a tractor pull, which isn't nearly as satisfying as watching Knute Rockney win one for the Gipper.

      Here's what you want to do. Mix the humans and robots. Give each team a couple of bots. Make some of them ED 209s. Make the others Bishop.

      Inevitably, some of the human players will turn into John Henry "A Man Ain't Nothing But a Man" Heroes who fight valiantly and get ripped apart by the machines.

      Now, you have identification, crowds on their feet, stadiums shocked into silence, Maximus getting carried off the field by an honor guard.

      And there's your box office.

      • You know, you are absolutely right. You could even allow the humans to have more players on the pitch to counterbalance the superhuman forces of the robots. This idea has potential.
      • You obviously haven't been to one of the matches. I used to program stuff in the simulation league (nothing real, just little dots moving about on the screen). You should have seen the people jumping around in the lecture theatre, yelling to their team to c'mon, c'mon, kick it in!

        People will identify with - and get involved with - almost anything. You could really feel the tension in the room grow as the ball was moved closer and closer to goals.

        Maybe I'm wrong though - I'm an Aussie and we'll place bets on flies crawling up a wall. :)

        • You do not have statistically normal audiences at your matches right now.

          Yes, crowds will gather to watch paint dry. Truckenstein has a fan base.

          But I'm talking about Box Office, events that generate excitement across the population at large. Right now, you're holding matches at the Mayfair Municipal Auditorium. I'm talking about matches at Madison Square Garden.

    • That's exactly what they are trying to do. Check out their website, they have set year 2050 as a "goal" to create a team that can compete with humans.

      http://www.robocup.org/ [robocup.org]

    • Um. Have you ever made the computer play itself in chess? How boring is that?

      If every robot player is the same (or, if every team is the same), then I predict that it would be very predictable (excuse the pun) and boring. Firstly, no goals would be scored. And secondly, the tabloids would go broke because there wouldn't be any soccer player scandals. And thirdly, there wouldn't be any English soccer player riots in France because there would always be draws (no wait... there would still be riots :)
  • IJCAI (Score:2, Informative)

    by SuperJ (125753)
    RoboCup is only one part of IJCAI. [ijcai-01.org] Another interesting event taking place at IJCAI is the AAAI [aaai.org] Mobile Robot Competition [cmu.edu] for urban search and rescue (USAR) robots. They have to navigate three courses developed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). [nist.gov] The courses have proved extremely difficult for autonomous robots to navigate.
  • wow, this is a truly international robo-footie series (even if you Americans insist on calling it soccer ;-P )

    The way the slashdot article was hyperlinked 'the fifth international competition', I had a sinking feeling it was going to be one of those USA 'World Series' sports which turns out to be 'USA plus a couple of guests'. Good on them for having a reasonable spread of participants.

  • by Observer2001 (447571) on Monday August 06, 2001 @12:25PM (#2120397)
    Here are some pointers to media reporting on RoboCup 2001 (a few items discuss related events):

    "Robo-cup" [npr.org] (audio, requires player) by Lee Gutkind, National Public Radio, Weekend All Things Considered, 28 July 2001

    "RoboCup 2001 Marks SGI's Second Year of RoboCup Federation Sponsorship" [prnewswire.com] (press release), PR Newswire, 1 August 2001

    "Robot Competitors Meet on a Soccer Field of Dreams" [nytimes.com] (free registration required) by Jeffrey Selingo, New York Times, 2 August 2001

    "RoboCup: Where Bots Kick Butt" [lycos.com] by Jason Spingarn-Koff, Lycos News, 2 August 2001

    "Rush is on for 'HAL'-like computer to perfect A.I." [nwsource.com] by Winda Benedetti, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 3 August 2001

    "Robot world cup kicks off" [bbc.co.uk], BBC, 3 August 2001

    "RoboCup 2001 boots up" [nature.com] by Helen Pearson, Nature Science Update, 3 August 2001

    "Blutgrätschen ohne Blut und Beine" [stern.de], stern.de, 3 August 2001

    "Roboter aus 23 Ländern tragen Fußballweltmeisterschaft aus" [net-business.de], Net-Business Online, 3 August 2001

    "RoboCup 2001, il calcio visto dai robot" [punto-informatico.it], Punto Informatico, 3 August 2001

    "Building a better goalie (buzz, whir)" [nwsource.com] by Gregory Roberts, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 4 August 2001

    "Man and machine take the field" [nwsource.com] by David Olsen, Seattle Times, 4 August 2001

    "Robots Storm the Soccer Field" [techtv.com] by Maria Godoy, TechTV/Tech Live, 6 August 2001

    Information about live Webcast of Botball finals [nasa.gov] (an event distinct from Robocup) on 7-8 August

  • Wouldnt it be interesting to see some other sports too? Perhaps a decatholon?
    • Re:Other Sports (Score:3, Informative)

      by Captain Bonzo (472184)
      Wouldnt it be interesting to see some other sports too? Perhaps a decatholon?

      In the UK we have had a thing called the 'Robot Games', which was a whole load of 'robot' (mostly remote controlled devices, but a few genuinely computer controlled) events including swimming, running, rope climbing, high and long jumps, mouse mazes, and so on. Some of it was a bit naff but it was great fun to watch.

      • In the UK we have had a thing called the 'Robot Games'

        Please excuse me for replying to myself, but I think I'd better correct myself. The event was called 'Technogames' and if you visit the BBC Robot Gallery [bbc.co.uk] you can choose to see selected highlights of this year's event. Apologies for not getting it right first time!

    • What's the one where they ski and shoot (biathelon)? Now THAT would be worth watching!
    • Re:Other Sports (Score:2, Interesting)

      by NeilArrow (150311)
      It's a nice idea, but the challenge in Robocup is in making the robots play as a team. Football (or Soccer for you non-UK types) is a fairly simple game that incorporates all the problems of simulating a team sport.

      Most other sports don't have the teamplay aspect. Whilst it would fun to watch robots throwing javelins around a hall full of people, it doesn't require the incredible coding and engineering skills that the Robocup contestants have.

      However, they do have a Robot Rescue competition. This requires robots to negotiate an arbitrary warehouse rescuing victims of a fire.

      Neil

  • I searched around on the linked pages to no avail, does anyone know if there are video-feeds from the competitions? I'd be particularly interested in the legged competitions, but any at all would be nice.
  • by hillct (230132) on Monday August 06, 2001 @08:58AM (#2123225) Homepage Journal
    I remember a time (I feel so old...) when these types of events were held at MIT and CalTech but that was about it; when they were entered by teams of grad students who were all engrosed in the technolohical advancement of the machines.

    Now there are TV shows like 'Robot Wars' on Comedy Central, and some similar program on the Learning Channel, which make a mockery of these sorts of events, allowing, entry of remote controlled devices rather than robots, and commented on by outragously dressed characcatures of human beings that you'd evpect to see on 'WWF Smackdown!'.

    It's good to see that some of these competitions have remained pure durring this time of rampent commercialization.

    --CTH
    • Yes - as part of the intellectual elite, I feel that we shoult keep competitions of this nature to the top 1% of the academic world, and not share with anyone who we deem to be culturally and intellectually inferior to us. After all, if someone spent a year building a BattleBot in his basement with his son, it's absolutely useless if he doesn't have the knowledge to put A.I. in it. The purpose of events like this is to share the ideas and knowledge. True, these shows glam it up with crazy announcers, but that's just like coating some bitter tasting medicine.

      The average American wouldn't want to watch this stuff if it was billed as academic, but if they are tricked into actually enjoying it, the field gets more attention.

  • RoboCop???? (Score:3, Funny)

    by D. Mann (86819) on Monday August 06, 2001 @08:29AM (#2126695) Homepage
    I was really excited when I saw the title of the article, because I had mis-read it as "RoboCop 2001 Underway." Imagine my disappointment when I saw it was actually "RoboCup."

    I am part man, part machine.

    Excuse me, I must go. Somewhere a crime is happening.
    • Happened to me last week as well. I wrote a comment that got 5 responses, and was VERY similar to other responses that got moderated up ... and here I thought talking about commercialization of the event was on topic.

      I suppose I could have pondered about how much time and cycles could have been spared using a simpler operating system and perhaps retro-fitting some old-school code, e.g. Tom Poindexter's Crobots [uni-frankfurt.de] ... or given my plug for a linux based version of C-Robots [pinc.com] ... but ....

      then again ... in the words of Cowboy Neal [slashdot.org] "I said that karma bores me, and I don't understand why people get all hung up over it. It's not like having a high karma is gonna get you discounts in stores. If you're really worried about karma, go donate money to charity or donate your time to some place that can use it."

  • by Anonymous Coward
    According to the New York times article, the intent of this competion is to create a team of robots that can defeat the winners of the world cup for soccer by 2050. It also mentions a bunch of humanitarian uses, such as firefighting and other dangerous work.

    But it doesn't mention the most obvious "dangerous work." By which I mean, of course, war. Am I the only person troubled by this?
  • Can you imagine the crisis that all the participants and fans are going through? On one hand, they're watching one of the premire tech/geek events in the world, but at the same time, they can't check their email or voicemail.

    What to do? What to do?

  • by alnapp (321260)
    Great, a whole arena full of generic wedge or box shaped bots completely failing to be entertaining.
  • It's slightly off topic, but it bears mentioning here. One of the classes taught at Case Western Reserve deals with building an artificial intelligence that is capable of collecting pastel, plastic eggs and taking them to it's nest, and rejecting black (negative points) eggs (or even better, taking them to the opponent's nest). All of the 'bots are built out of legos. It's a really neat competition too, although I suppose it's hardly of the calibre of making robots that play football. Oh, and just because it's fun to boast, some friends of mine won the competition last year and their 'bot then got a chance to compete against the reigning champion and won!
  • More info (Score:3, Informative)

    by boaworm (180781) <boaworm@gmail.com> on Monday August 06, 2001 @08:56AM (#2146009) Homepage Journal
    For those of you who hasn't read the whole story I can tell this is a very international competition. I'm a M.Sc student in Sweden, and at my university here we've had a RoboCup competition for a few years as well. It is a very good way to learn how to write autonome agents (football players), and gives a good insight in how AI "works".

    For those of you interrested in trying this at home (yes you can :-) the software is available for download. You can run the "server" on both Unix and Windows. Its just to write a few players and get rockin!
    For those who just wants to see how it all works, there are also old teams to download. Go fetch [robocup.org]!

  • See it if you can! (Score:3, Informative)

    by LenE (29922) on Monday August 06, 2001 @12:01PM (#2148807) Homepage
    The goal of this competition is to eventually develop robots and AI that would be capable of competing with a human soccer team. It's a bit scaled down and unrealistic for now, but the machines are getting better every year.

    Our team here at Cornell has one the last two international competitions for the small (not AIBO) class robots, in fact, they haven't lost a game yet (although I'm not sure how they're doing right now). Thier team consists of five omnidirectional player robots and one unidirectional (like foozball) goalie robot, all less than one foot in diameter.

    The playing field that they use is about one and a half times larger than a ping-pong table, and their class uses a fluorescent orange golf ball for a soccer ball. The players aren't allowed to touch the players on the other team, and none of the robots are permitted to grab the ball (it must remain un-restrained).

    A camera is mounted midfield, to give both teams the same video feed. Our entire team is controlled remotely by two computers. One is dedicated to processing the video feed while the other computer does the AI and remote controll of the robots. Unfortunately, they use NT for both because the drivers for their video capture card don't exist yet under Linux.

    -- Len

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