Robot Athletes Come to Life with Artificial Intelligence!

Robot Football Players Competed on Green Field in China

Another example of Artificial Intelligence (AI) coming out of fantasy and becoming a reality is robot football players called “Nao.” Attempts are being made to confront the Naos against their human rivals in 2050.

Europe’s most significant innovation and technology fair, “Maker Faire Rome — The European Edition,” held for the 7th time this year in Rome, where nearly 600 projects from 40 countries, including Turkey, were exhibited, hosted these tiny robots, he did. As a result, the RoboCup project was born on July 17, with the idea of ​​a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots playing football and beating the team that will be the World Cup champion that year by playing according to FIFA rules.

The first match between robots was played in Japan in 1997 as part of the RoboCup (Robot World Cup Initiative). Turkey hosted this tournament in 2011.

In the 2–day mini–game, which was watched with interest by people of all ages, on a mini field in the fairground in Rome, Switzerland’s NomadZ, Germany’s H.T.W.K. and Italy’s only robot football team S.P.Q.R.A triple tournament was held with the participation of university teams named due to the need for charging of the robots, the matches that lasted only 10 minutes each had a pleasant time for the audience. Especially the rapid take-off of the falling robots from the ground caused fun moments.

HUMAN FOOTBALL PLAYERS CAN BE STILL BREATHE EASY

Are the robot soccer players ready to play against their human opponents? Unfortunately, the answer to the question is “no” for now because it is evident that they cannot act autonomously yet. However, although there are problems with the robot’s recognizing and perceiving objects in the environment, precisely determining its position in the background using only sensors, advancing without hitting obstacles, dribbling, passing, shooting, and choosing the behavior of the team by coordinating with other robots according to the purpose of the team in the competitions, there are some problems developed in the leagues every year. Nevertheless, technologies raise hopes for the year 2050. Organizing how the Naos will move still seems to be a big problem, but coding errors detected in each match are quickly fixed. From Sapienza University of Rome and S.P.Q.R. team leader, Prof. Daniele Nardi says human football players can still breathe a sigh of relief.

Robots competed for the grand prize by playing football at the RoboCup Asia Pacific Tournament held in Tianjin, located in the north of China. Within the scope of the World Intelligence Congress, which was held for the third time this year, approximately 400 competitors from 10 different countries formed football teams consisting entirely of robots and showed up on the green field.

In the tournament held during the 17th and 18th of May, especially the competitors from China, Japan, and Italy received great applause with their performances. In Tianjin, where heavy industry is highly developed, significant investments are made in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry with government support. The Beijing government gave 144 million dollars grant support to companies operating in the city to support studies on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Meanwhile, RoboCup has another purpose: To Promote Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Teams worldwide compete in the global competition, which currently features several different categories. All groups take the field with robots with similar mechanical properties in the Standard League. What separates the teams is the difference that Artificial Intelligence (AI) software will create.

In the Humanoid League, where teams design and build their robots, the teams also develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies and Robotic Engineering.

Other events at the organization include “RoboCup Rescue,” where robots compete in search and rescue scenarios, and “RoboCup@Work” competitions, which focus on work–based tasks such as production and delivery.

But the main focus of the competition is football.

“The challenge is to build a robot that can move as fast and agile as a human, spin like Beckham, and change direction when it hits the ball,” says Professor Stone.

“20 years ago, I couldn’t have imagined where we are now, but there is still a long way.”

Among the teams competing in RoboCup is a team of students and staff from Dalhousie University in Canada working on artificial intelligence and robotics.

As no physical tournaments have been held since 2019 due to the coronavirus, the last RoboCup event was held in a virtual environment. In the competition held under the name RoboCup Software League, the teams competed in a computer game, and Cyrus won this tournament.

Mehtap Sarvmaili, a computer engineer and academician who is a member of the Cyrus team, says that he predicts that robotic sports organizations will become widespread in the future and will probably be lucrative:

“This may or may not happen. But this ambitious goal is motivating a global, enthusiastic community to develop artificial intelligence for that purpose.”

“It can be financially lucrative through advertising, just like human events.”

However, in the long run, even the supporters of robot sports organizations point to the difficulty of keeping the interest of sports fans in these matches.

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