RoboCup 2013 took place in Eindhoven at the end of June. Now BotSport TV has provided the edited highlights in videos that clearly show how falling affects robots differently according to their size.
When it comes to Robot Soccer, the size of the robots determines the type of contest that is played.
Robots at least 130 centimeters tall are classed as Adult Size and are the biggest robots in the Humanoid League. Because they are both the most expensive and the most vulnerable they avoid anything that could be described as "contact sport" and instead are restricted to a rather tame penalty shoot-out.
The skills required are identifying the ball, aiming and kicking it. One robot first takes the penalty shots and then plays in goal when it’s the opposing side’s turn to shoot. The ball is placed behind the robot, which then has to recognize and locate it.
One thing you'll note in this video, of the Adult Size 2013 final in which Japan met Taiwan is how two humans hover behind their respective robots ready to catch them in the case of a fall:
The commentary from the RoboCup 2013 report adds an element of tension that is perhaps lacking in the video, which seems to proceed painfully slowly apart from the speeded up sections when nothing of significance is happening:
The Adult Size final saw JoiTech from Japan take an early lead, when their robot managed to stop a penalty shot by their opponents from Taiwan who had beaten Tech United in the semi-final. But then JoiTech’s robot couldn’t find the ball when it was his turn to take a penalty shot, making the score even again. However the Japanese team went back into the lead when the next shot by the Taiwan team’s robot hit the goalpost. So at the end of the match the winners were the JoiTech team from Japan, giving them the World Champions title for the coming year!
After watching the Adult Size competition, the Teen Size one seems action packed!
In this competition each team has two robots which can be between 90 and 120 centimeters in height. Although these robots are supposed to have the ability to stand up unassisted in the 2013 final between NimbRo TeenSize team from Germany and CIT Brains Teen from Japan, the Japanese robots fell over frequently and had difficulty standing up, which led to an easy win by the German team, even though it too had technical problems in the second half.
Two German teams met in the Final of the Standard Platform competition, which resulted in B-Human beating Nao Team HTWK 6-2. This match also featured a good deal of falling down but in this case most of it was entirely tactical with the goalies on both sides having discovered that they can effectively defend the goal by throwing themselves to the ground. The key difference, of course, is that Nao robots pick themselves up autonomously.
By comparison with the previous two contests this one does seem exciting, an impression that is again enhanced by speeding up the action in the less dramatic moments of the game.
So will they beat a human team by 2050? Who knows but it is beginning to look just possible.