What started as a mission to field a team of robots capable of winning against the human soccer World Cup champions by 2050, has evolved into an international scientific initiative aimed at advancing state of the art intelligent robots. RoboCup features a unique blend of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) with robots competing in different league competitions.

The event has been running for more than twenty years with the first games taking place in 1997 where more than 40 teams participated and at least 5000 spectators attended. Sydney was handed the RoboCup baton for the first time since 2000 and seeing as it was held at the International Convention Centre (ICC), which is a hop away from our offices, we just had to get involved.

One of the first things you noticed when entering the RoboCup venue was just how quiet it was. Apart from the occasional buzzing sound, most participants were far too busy getting their final programming done to be chitchatting. From the matching team jumpsuits and serious stares, it was clear everyone took the competition very seriously.

This year RoboCup ran 13 competitions across four days. From robots rescuing victims placed in a simulated field to robo-soccer, there were bots of all different shape and sizes vying for the title of RoboCup winners. Most of the action was concentrated around five different soccer fields. Each field had three referees, eight participants (four on each team) and four robots facing off.

While not exactly the fastest games of soccer to be played, these mini-matches were some of the most intense, with programers from either side willing their robots to make it the entire 10 minutes. There were some disappointments of course, some bots fell and couldn’t get back up and some just kept running around in circles. But team spirits remained high.

The idea of robots playing soccer was first mentioned in a paper titled On Seeing Robots by Canadian Professor Alan Mackworth way back in 1993. At the same time, a group of researchers from Japan had been workshopping ideas to use soccer as a way to promote science and technology and thus the Robot World Cup Initiative aka RoboCup was born.

Those who participate in the Cup learn a lot from competing, especially with regards to understanding software and mechatronic engineering advances from the previous year.

Mobiddiction is invested in being up to date in the world of robotics, AI and machine learning, where so much is happening! Last month some of the Team Mobi kids attended the Human+Robot Friendship Ball which saw them get up close and personal with some of the most innovative social bots in the country.

“It’s great to see such events being held, it encourages schools to take up the challenge and come up with ideas that go beyond their day to day lives at school. Appreciating that technology plays a very important role already in our lives, and it’s only going to increase over time” – Mike Vasavada (Mobiddiction Director)

RoboCup is just one of the many ways STEM Australia is helping to increase opportunities for young people to get involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

It was incredible to see hundreds of teams from all around the world, around 170 to be exact with 1,200 participants from universities and research organisations across the world, finally get to see their bots out on the pitch to entertain us all – and be crowned champs of course!

This year’s games were poised to be bigger than ever and it did not disappoint! Next year the bots and their teams head to Bordeaux, France for the 2020 games.

Watch the video below for all the highlights!

 

 

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