You might have seen Nike’s short, The Last Game. It’s basically looking at human soccer players that are pitted against soccer playing machines. This is a fun way of looking at soccer, however fanciful and unlikely. But is it that far-fetched? The RoboCup is a real thing; little machines designed to play soccer competing with each other on a pitch. That’s all good and well, but it’s not like robots are playing soccer against humans…
Would you believe that robot soccer players could not only compete against, but beat a human World Cup team in 2050?
The near-future goal for the RoboCup is for soccer-playing machines to top a human team in just over 35 years from now.
When robots were first developed for soccer it was a triumph if they could stand and recognize a ball. However, in this year’s RoboCup they’re making passes and scoring goals!
The World Cup has just ended and now the robots get their chance to make their countries proud. Teams from 45 countries will meet to compete in the tournament. The thought of people building robots to compete in soccer matches might sound like fun and games, but it’s more than that.
Of course everyone who builds a robot in the RoboCup is in it to win it. They want to produce a machine that is capable of playing soccer better than all the other soccer-playing machines. Soccer requires quick reactions, instant processing, agile and precise movements, and adaptation to a constantly-changing environment. The machines that are able to win the RoboCup are the ones that excel in these areas. This brings technological advancements that can be played to many if not all other areas of robotics.
The byproduct of the RoboCup is actually the most important part of the entire event. The competition and excitement of creating a robot that can outperform other robots and ultimately people is turning out to be really beneficial for the entire field!
It will be interesting to see how the advancements made in the RoboCup can translate to other areas of robotics like manufacturing. It will also be interesting to see if there is ever a team of robots capable of taking on a human World Cup squad!