The University of Miami is about to take its proud athletic tradition into a whole new arena: 3D simulation robot soccer. Yes, a simulated soccer team known as the "RoboCanes" will be heading to the RoboCup, aka the Robot Soccer World Cup, being held in Singapore from June 19th to the 25th.
The RoboCanes are only one of two American teams competing in the 3D Simulation soccer division.
There has not actually been a team of real-life Soccer playing robots assembled on the Coral Gables campus (bummer). Instead the players are 3D simulations of robots that are controlled by a complicated system of AI technology (meaning, no, this is not a glorified video game with humans directly operating the robots). We still, however, can not confirm that Brock Berlin was actually a Football robot experiment gone horribly wrong.
"The idea of using soccer as a test bed for robots is to learn about the needs of agents, or robots, that act in real-time, dynamic, and adversarial environments," said RoboCanes team leader Ubbo Visser, research associate professor of computer science at UM College of Arts and Sciences in a press release. "To understand what it takes for a robot to integrate knowledge and put information into context so that it can make decisions in a split second; that is one of the hardest problems in AI and robotics to solve right now."
RoboCup, which has been held annual since 1997, has a pretty hefty goal in mind: "By the Year 2050, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall will a soccer game, complying with the official FIFA rules, against the winner of the most recent World Cup of Human Soccer."
RoboCup also has competition for 2D robots as well as multiple divisions for actual robots.
Being an American soccer team in an international competition, Visser has set his sites for the teams first year in competition a bit low, but reasonable: "The idea is to develop our team and to be successful; this means to pass the first round this year. If we manage that, it will be a great success, but we would like to evolve into the real robot league, next year."
You can view a clip of the RoboCanes (who wear blue, and not the traditional Orange and Green) in action on the school's website
. It is only slightly less boring than actual soccer, and comes with the added bonus of now simulated vuvuzela noise.