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jueves, 16 de septiembre de 2010

Soccer Robots Bend it Like Beckham

Wrap your head around this: not only is robot soccer a real thing, but at least one researcher thinks robotic soccer competitions will determine the future of artificial intelligence and robot technology.

That conclusion came after Claude Sammut, a researcher with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems in Sydney, reviewed the technology demonstrated at the RoboCup international robot soccer competition this year in Singapore. (Yes, robotic soccer has its own World Cup, as well as its own official governing body, known as the Federation of International Robot-Soccer Association.)

Competitions like these have turned out to be one of the most popular ways for encouraging innovation in the field of robotics. They provide teams of scientists with a way of comparing and testing new methods of programming artificial intelligence.

The ultimate goal (no pun intended) for the scientists working in this area is for a robotic team to beat a human team before the year 2050. Since we already live in a world where computers are the unrivaled chess champions, it's not hard to imagine that soon robots will be the unquestioned soccer champs.

Sammut argues that the differences between humans and robots playing soccer are smaller than we might imagine. As with human players, robotic ones demand communication and cooperation. Players need to know their surroundings and use the information they take in through sensors to not just act, but learn and adjust their tactics to better take on their opponents.

These skills are handy on the playing field, but seriously useful in robots who perform seach and rescue functions and who may one serve as household helpers.

And for those who are wondering: no, there are no scantily clad robot cheerleaders in robot soccer.

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