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In the evolving world of man vs. machine, robots have taken to the soccer field and as developments continue in the robotics industry, it's been suggested that we will some day see robotics players take on human players in serious competitions.
RoboCup, the world cup of robotic soccer, is an initial step in that direction and the competition kicked off this week in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Thousands of soccer-playing robots representing over 40 countries are taking part in this year's event, according to a report from CBS News.
Organizers of the event have unveiled an ultimate and lofty goal of putting a team of robots on the soccer field by 2050 that will be able to go up against formidable human opponents...and win.
RoboCup pledges on its official website that "By [the] mid-21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win [a] soccer game, complying with the official rule of the FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup."
According to a report from PCMag.com, to achieve this goal organizers have created multiple competition classes for RoboCup, including small robots, large robots, humanoid robots and virtual robots. The eventual plan is to merge their techniques into a single squad of all-star androids that may one day have a real chance in a man vs. machine match-up.
The Associated Press (AP) reports that in terms of RoboCup rules, once a game starts there is no human interference allowed, except for substitutions when humans are permitted to replace a robot that has broken down, and when refs eject a player for fouling an opponent.
To play, the robots use different kicks for passing and shooting and they communicate their position to each other through wireless Internet connections. Each robot is capable of playing every position equally well and are able to seamlessly shift roles. For example, goalkeepers are able to come out and play as strikers. Also, reportedly when a robot gets a shot on a goal it very rarely misses.
"That's the advantage a robot has over a human," Dickens He, of the University of Pennsylvania's "UPennalizers" team told the AP. "There are no mistakes: a robot does what it is trained to do."