The Canadian team is expected to score at the World Cup!
The robot World Cup, that is.
This July, several robots and their attendant humans from the University of Manitoba will be heading to China for RoboCup 2008. This international competition pits automatons from around the world against one another as they walk, run and play soccer for world titles.
“This is a very big deal,” says John Anderson, computer science, co-director with Jacky Baltes of the Autonomous Agents Laboratory in the Engineering and Information Technology Complex. “These competitions show how advanced robots have become and where the research is headed.”
Anderson, Baltes and their students have entered their robots in games and tests in RoboCup and other international games that parallel the “human” World Cup of soccer and the Summer Olympics. This year, the Manitoba team will also be testing a microrobot that is only about the size of a quarter.
Anderson explains: “The microrobots actually play on the surface of a television monitor, which broadcasts a soccer field or any other background we want for the robot's ‘world.’ This kind of project is an example of what is known as a ‘mixed reality application.” “It’s like a Star Trek ‘holodeck’ for robots,” he adds.
The team has robots that can kick soccer balls, walk, run and interact with humans and even other robots. But while many robots today are very sophisticated and cost millions of dollars, they design and build our autonomous agents for only a few hundred dollars.
The humanoid robot, which walks over to a ball and kicks it, is driven using an ordinary cellphone. And how does the robot “see” the ball? Through the cellphone camera, of course.
“It’s a very ingenious design,” Anderson notes.
Watch one of the robots in action:
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