You probably have heard or come across the word Robocup and never really got to understand its meaning. Human beings play different games like soccer, rugby and cricket. Well, all these games have their own pleasure and more importantly the reason why people play them. Likewise, robotics has their main purpose. Robocup is a scientific venture, specifically in the engineering field that is aimed at promoting research on robots. In this endeavor, engineers under an association came together and agreed on some game through in which robots would play. Here the idea was to identify how best these robots could imitate human soccer players.
Like the human soccer game, there are rules involved in this game. However, there are basic things that are not exactly as human soccer. The reason for this is that the purposes for the two types of soccer are different. One is for studies and research while the other is a game of pleasure.
Human soccer teams are basically made of eleven players per team who play as they are unless a player is eliminated through breach of soccer rules. On the other hand in Robocup, the numbers of robots that play in a match differ with the type of league that is underway. For example, a four legged league consists of 4 players per match.
In human soccer, the referee has the power to control activities in the pitch. These include suspension of players, making decisions concerning a wrong move and such things. However, in some robocup leagues especially those that include several robots, there is no referee. The game is played freely with no interruption of a third party.
The above are jus the basic things concerning these two types of soccer. Other things remain constant, only the terms used to materials like ball and other things are different as well as jargon.
If you understand the rules, aims and purposes of robocup, you might come to the conclusion that these purposes are overly ambitious and impractical. Robocup and its governing bodies aim at playing soccer with human players. Basically this will be the ultimate test of achievements of studies done. By 2050 human beings will play against robots in the game of soccer.
Critics and other concerned parties particularly university students and teachers have raised concerns on the matter. It is hard to imagine human beings playing against machines, now more so that there has never been any significant example of such a scenario. FIFA, the world governing body pledged to the purpose of Robotics. An interesting thing here is that FIFA intends to enforce all the rules of the soccer. A challenge then will be on engineers and other researchers to conform to the rules of human soccer. This has been the primary goal of Robocup.
Even with much assurance from FIFA and Robocup teams, some people are still left with questions regarding the credibility of the game. The reason is that people are still in fear that robots are still machines. Chances of injury are anticipated unfortunately on the side of human soccer players. The game is said to be played by between a well formulated robotic team which shall have been brought together upon a selection by the governing body of robotics against the best soccer team of the time, that is, the team that will have worn the previous world cup.
It should however be appreciated that robocup are not for just that – playing soccer. Once the game is played, whatever the outcome, it will not be the end of research on this field. Robocup presents a good trading platform that will boost production.
The technical and organizing committees of Robocup soccer and other games sit every year to draft and amend rules that will govern leagues in that year. Rules drafted are to go hand in hand with the original goal of the research intended to be carried out. It should be noted that the primary goal of the games id not fun as it is in human games – this is to help in research in robotics, in other words, this is the practical essence of the research.
Although rules are drafted every year, there are rules that have autonomous and therefore are permanent and apply in all leagues: Here are some of the up to date rule of Robocup soccer games;
Drafting of rules
Rules of a RoboCup soccer leagues are drafted and revised by the league technical committee only, though there can be consultation with the other committees. Teams cannot therefore come with rules that will serve their own convenience. This can jeopardize the effectiveness of the research. Teams can be deregistered or disqualified from this particular league.
It is a rule that rule changes. Rules of a league are not rigid. They are subject to change by the technical committees either, revising or drafting of new rules.
The ball used in Robocup robot soccer games are the same type that is used in golf. It should be orange and spherical.
The field or pitch should be flat with a green mat or carpet. 10mm thick markings just as those of human soccer fields are used. There are cameras hung on a mounting bar for the purposes of reference and close monitoring of the game and later use for research.
Unlike human soccer where there is a limit of substitutes, here there is no limit to the number of robots that can be interchanges as long as they adhere to the rules of that particular league.
Robocup is an international platform created by the late 1990s by concerned engineers and researchers interested in robotics. The aim was to enhance research in Artificial intelligence research and Robotics.
Having identified some games like soccer and chess as the best suited option to achieve their goal, they have to invite everyone interested in different soccer and chess games. In order to ensure constant participation in research through the games, The Robocup committees had to come up in leagues that teams would play depending on the dynamics of their research and objectives.
The following were the leagues that were established:
Standard Platform League
This is a Robocup robot soccer league that invites teams to participate using identical robots. Robots are of different types. The underlying rule of this rule is that participant robots have to be identical not only in color but in mechanics, make and model. It is a rule in the game that the robots operate autonomously and no human manipulation or control of the game either physically or through computers.
The Robocup@home League
If you have watched iRobot, a movie starring Will Smith a famous American Action actor, then you will have a clear picture of what I am talking about. This league is designed to research on robots that will be of domestic help to human beings with the capacity to do house chores like cooking, washing and cleaning. These robots are to be designed in a way that they will not clash with human beings, so they have to be like human beings.
Robocup Simulation League
This is a soccer league that involves players who play in a computer simulation. Unlike the other leagues, the robots are not in physical hardware way. This league has some mini leagues including 2D, 3D and mixed reality soccer stimulation.
The intention of RoboCup defines why the soccer game is well organized across all the members states that support the research projects. Since its inception in 1997, the number of leagues has increased commendably. There has also been an increase in the terminologies used in the soccer competitions an indication that there is improvement in research and new terms are introduced in the field as they are discovered. One common field that is as a result of this study is rescue robot teams.
RoboCup has different committees that govern and oversees the games. They are in every member country of association of robotics and Artificial Intelligence research. These include:
Trustees and Executives Committees
The National Committees
These committees are made of people with robotics and Artificial intelligence research at heart. Such people include engineers, scientists, researchers, lecturers and others interested persons. Every country has its own national committees that oversee RoboCup games in that country. Every country that is interested in participating in these games is cordially welcome. The main function of these committees is to oversee that organization of the games by setting dates and deadlines for participants.
This committee is responsible for recruiting teams and receiving reports and research proposals by each team within the country.
Since the aim of the research is to come into as many findings and develop artificial Intelligence research and robotics. The technical team interrogates the robots that are presented by different teams. This involves interrogation of the challenges that are likely to occur during the games and advices on the possible solutions. It is also concerned with the development of pitches.
Trustees and Executives Committees
It is important to note that these games involves a cup or a prize that comes with monitory benefits aimed at motivating people to research and develop robotics and AI. These executives handle issues of funding, finances and prizes.