Have you ever seen a robot playing soccer?
Would you like to see a soccer game pitting a human against a robot?
Is it really necessary to spend resources just to make a robot soccer player?
Before we get into the answers to these questions, let me first explain what the whole fuss is about!
Recently, a group of scientists took it upon themselves to design a soccer team – you guessed it – comprising of robots. However, their ultimate objective does not merely focus on creating a team of robots who understand and can play soccer but in their own words they want, “…A team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official rules of FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup.”
Ambitious? I’d say so! However, if we take a quick look at the history of this project, we’d understand the dynamics behind the whole concept much better.
The History of This Project
In 1997, man and machine clashed in a skirmish of strategies, after six games of chess, grand master Garry Kasparov was defeated by IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer. It was a moment that defined a new era. As humans we moved onto the next step and defined new challenges for ourselves – challenges that cultivated advancements in technology for research and industries.
Almost 3 months after this technological feat, robotics’ experts introduced another challenge in artificial intelligence, mechanical engineering and electronics: for the first time 40 teams of robotics experts took interest in world’s first Soccer Robotics Cup (or RoboCup) in Nagoya, Japan under the flag of International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence.
The manifesto, which might seem more like science fiction than a practical goal, wasn’t an entirely new idea to the robotics community even in 1997. The concept of a robot soccer game had been first mentioned in 1992 by Professor Alan Mackworth, of the University of British Columbia, in his paper, “On Seeing Robots” where he argued that building a robotic soccer team could help solve several problems of modern robotics. From that paper, Mackworth and his team at UBC launched the Dynamo Project, the world’s first attempt at an autonomous robotic soccer team. The Dynamo Project carried out a series of successful experiments from 1992 through 1994, and is seen by many as the crucial precursor to the Robotics Cup. Independently a group of Japanese researchers organized a workshop on grand challenge in artificial intelligence, in October 1992. In 1993 a serious discussion of using soccer game for promoting science and technology of AI and robotics was commenced. An interesting component of RoboCup is that it is a deliberate endeavor to advance exploration utilizing a common domain, predominantly, soccer. Additionally, it is maybe the first to unequivocally claim that an ultimate objective is to defeat human World Cup champions. It aims at a significant long-term objective to promote research and development, instead of achieving and solving small tasks.
Impact and Uses of ROBOCUP
At the point when the achievement of such an objective has critical social impact, we call this kind of objective a grand challenge project. Some may feel confused about what we can achieve from this initiative and the kind of real-life problems that can be solved by a group of soccer playing robots.
The achievement of this particular project will open avenues allowing rapid advancement in the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence, electronics and mechanics. Moreover, if successful, it will also have an impact on the way we consume storage devices, energy sources etc. In simpler words, if the objective of this project is achieved, a technological landmark would have been achieved.
Here’s hoping we live to view this tech marvel come to life!