UM Going to the RoboCup 2010

UM competing in soccer-themed 3D event at RoboCup World Championship and Symposium.

Coral Gables (June 16, 2010) — The 14th annual RoboCup World Championship and Symposium is an international robotic competition, whose goal is to advance Artificial Intelligence (AI) and intelligent robotics research by using an exciting scenario: soccer games where competitors explore, combine and test a variety of cutting-edge technologies. RoboCup 2010 will be held in Singapore June 19-25. The University of Miami team the “RoboCanes” is one of only two US teams participating in the 3D simulation soccer league.

“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,” says Ubbo Visser, research associate professor of computer science at UM College of Arts and Sciences and team leader for RoboCanes. “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 (originally called The Robot World Cup Soccer Games and Conferences) started in 1997, and over the years has become the prevalent robotics competition in the world, involving more than 3,000 researchers, about 450 teams and participants from over 40 countries, which makes this event a real world championship. For the event, the contestants develop autonomous robots and software agents and take part in games, simulations, conferences, and educational programs, but RoboCup is not just about playing games, explains Visser, who is one of the Trustees of the RoboCup Federation.

“There is a noble goal behind this work, namely to understand what’s going on if we send robots in the field and let them do the work of humans,” says Visser. “Doing this work gives one a lot of respect for the human mind; people can have this huge amount of experience of what to do in unforeseen situations and that is exactly what we are trying to solve with robots; what kind of techniques are successful in these sorts of situations is what we are touching on.”

The RoboCup Federation proposed the ultimate goal of the RoboCup Initiative to be stated as follows: “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.”

Soccer games are the primary focus at RoboCup. Like the real World Cup in soccer, in RoboCup a team has to qualify to participate. One way to qualify is to win a regional open; another is fulfilling guidelines and qualification rules. The games are divided into the following leagues: Simulation League– 2D and 3D; Small Size Robot League, Middle Size Robot League, Four-Legged Robot League, and the Humanoid League.

This is the first time UM participates in this event. RoboCanes was formed less than a year ago under Visser’s leadership. The team is comprised of seven participants that range from undergraduate to PhD students. To take part in this competition, the UM team had to develop a soccer team of six 3D robots, meaning they have a complete resemblance to a physical robot. The robots are autonomous and have the ability to acquire strategic knowledge and real-time reasoning and can communicate and cooperate with each other during a game.

Knowing how difficult it is to win this event, the team is setting their sights to making it through its first round “The idea is to develop our team and to be successful; this means to pass the first round this year,” Visser says. “If we manage that, it will be a great success, but we would like to evolve into the real robot league, next year.”

In addition to competing, the UM scientists will be presenting their research work at the RoboCup International Symposium 2010, a competitive scientific event with less than 20% acceptance rate. Their papers are titled: “TopLeague & Bundesliga Manager: New generation online soccer games” by Visser and “Entropy-based Active Vision for a Humanoid Soccer Robot” by Andreas Seekircher, PhD student of computer science at UM and his collaborators from the University of Bremen in Germany.

The other US team participating in the 3D simulation soccer league is from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to the RoboCupSoccer, the event has three other areas: RoboCupRescue, RoboCup@Home and RoboCupJunior.

To observe a video clip of RoboCanes in action, go to: http://www.cs.miami.edu/aigames

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UM will participate in the 3D competition. Above: Scene from motion lab experiments at Department of Computer Science.

University of Miami Media Contact:

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University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of our diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world.