Robocup 2017: Robots are set to Replace your Best Football Stars by 2050

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Robots fight for the ball during their football match in the standard platform league tournament at the RoboCup 2017 in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture on July 30, 2017
Robots fight for the ball during their football match in the standard platform league tournament at the RoboCup 2017 in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture on July 30, 2017

Although robots are still walking with an infantile gait that makes them prone to falling over and unable to carry out coordinated movements, scientists are hopeful that robots will dominate the football world, come 2050. This is the outcome of this year RoboCup tournament which was held in Japan.

The RoboCup challenge has held every year for the past two decades. Each year, participating teams meet in a friendly tournament called RoboCup, in which they will compete in soccer matches and other tasks such as industrial production and rescue missions.

According to the organizers, the ultimate goal of RoboCup is to develop humanoid soccer-playing robots that can beat the FIFA world champion team. “We hope to reach that goal by 2050”, Gerhard Kraetzschmar, the General Chair of the event said.

Robots fight for the ball during their football match in the standard platform league tournament at the RoboCup 2017 in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture on July 30, 2017
Robots fight for the ball during their football match in the standard platform league tournament at the RoboCup 2017 in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture on July 30, 2017

RoboCup was launched in 1996, shortly after IBM’s Deep Blue computer system defeated the world’s best chess player. The RoboCup founders created the tournament with the intention to raise robotic development standards and challenge engineers to create machines that not only could think like humans but could act like humans as well. The set year to finally attain this is the year 2050.

But, how realistic is this ambition?

For now, it is a bit unrealistic for a number of reasons. For one, the three main handicaps experienced by the bots are physical agility, stamina, and perception. Humans are more coordinated than robots. Another is energy. Today’s battery systems are heavy and need to be replaced during the match. If humanoids will ever defeat humans, they will require a light, compact, and efficient energy source coupled with an autonomous coordinating system.

Robots Focused on a ball at Robocup in Japan
Robots focused on the ball at the RoboCup 2017 in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture on July 30, 2017

But, researchers are working on the humanoids to produce a perfect build of robots for the challenge. First, they are designed with human faces with a look-alike skeletal contraptions. Also, the robots were programmed to be self-directed and played strategically without being given instructions.They are also using a camera installed in their heads to see. And, they have installed an artificial intelligence (AI) mechanism with which they can recognize spacing and identify objects in the sight.

So, the solution is not too far away.

Although 50 years is way away from now, the thought of having robots entertain us in the various leagues, tournaments and friendly matches seems interesting and eerie at the same time. It is almost too glaring that technology holds the future whether for positive health and wellness or for sport.


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