- Title: Australian and U.S. robots clash at Beijing RoboCup Challenge soccer finals
- Date: 24th October 2016
- Summary: CODE ON HANNA'S COMPUTER SCREEN
- Embargoed: 8th November 2016 15:23
- Keywords: robot Australia United States RoboCup challenge
- Location: BEIJING, CHINA
- City: BEIJING, CHINA
- Country: China
- Topics: Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA00255D7IVT
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Australian and U.S. robots clashed on Monday (October 24) at the final match of the RoboCup Challenge in Beijing, a robot soccer match held as part of China's 2016 World Robot Conference.
A total of four Chinese teams (originally six before two dropped out at the beginning of the preliminary matches) and two foreign teams competed at the event.
Teams competed in a round-robin format tournament which began on Saturday (October 22). The final victors-the University of Texas at Austin's (UT Austin) Austin Villa, and the University of New South Wales's (UNSW) Runswift, faced off on Monday afternoon.
Although robot soccer matches have been held since the mid 90's, the current format for RoboCup matches involves using a Nao robot, originally developed by French robotics company Aldebaran Robotics.
Programmers are able to instill a code in the Nao robots that allows them to bet on which of their teammates will reach the ball first.
"The robots are telling each other, like where they believe the ball is, where they believe that they are on the field, if they've fallen down or not, and then they're also to decide who goes for the ball. They bid on its position, they bid on like how likely they are to think that they can get to it fastest," explained University of Texas at Austin PhD student Josiah Hanna.
But when it comes to the match itself, the robots are connected to a wireless network in which they can supposedly communicate over and "bet". They are virtually autonomous, although referees are able to monitor which robots are connected to the network and team members can decide if they need to replace robots or not.
Each team member can have up to five robots on the field at maximum, although they must be periodically replaced due to technical errors or constant overheating.
Monday's match drew a large crowd of spectators.
"I think these robots are able to move quite flexibly, and this is a pleasant surprise (to see this). You might say that technically these robots are a bit different from real people, but there is big room for the future development of robots," said Sun Qiong, who brought her son to watch the match.
UT Austin made four quick scores in the first half, as UNSW was forced to deal with several malfunctioning robots. By the second half, however, UNSW made a strong comeback with scoring four additional goals.
The final score was 7-3, UT Austin's win.
Austin Villa team captain Katie Genter, also a PhD student at UT Austin, said everything went "as planned".
"Well, we won as planned, but Runswift is a strong team. They had some issues at the beginning of the game, so they didn't play very well the first half, but at the second half they came out really strong. They ended up scoring four goals to our three in the second half, so, but we had a good lead in the second half which saved us," she said.
UT Austin has previously lost to UNSW at RoboCup matches, although they were the victors at this year's World RoboCup held in Leipzig, Germany.
UNSW's Jeremy Collette said they were set on playing a great match if it weren't for so many technical problems.
"The first game we played today, we won six nil I think. We were out there scoring a lot of goals, everyone was communicating, everything was looking really good, so that's we're a bit disappointed today, because when we went out there, firstly one of our robots just died, and wouldn't turn on. You know, we couldn't even believe our luck, right at the grand final. So we've been using that robot for three or four days straight, and just before the finals it stops. And then we had another problem with another robot, so, which is kind of like a perfect storm for us," he said.
China has hosted the actual World RoboCup twice, in 2008 in Suzhou, and 2015 in Hefei.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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