Robocup – robot soccer & beyond

Robocup – robot soccer & beyond


[MUSIC] Peter Stone
The mode of rule development or changes within Robocup is always that once a particular challenge is either solved or people can handle it, more or less, you make the problem harder. The rules of the game have changed and as a result that’s driven changes in our approach and in the research that has had to happen. Since you were here last time, the field has changed dramatically. There are fewer beacons around the outside. There used to be six; now there’s only four. Peggy Fidelman
This feels a little bit bigger than the old field. There’s no wall around it like the old field had. We also use these lines that make it look like a soccer field but also helps the robots localize. So if the robot sees this in its vision, and doesn’t have any other information, it knows that it is here or over there. Or it may possibly be at one of those T-intersections along the goal there, but that’s less likely. It used to be pretty much just kick straight at the goal from wherever you were on the field. But now since there are no walls on the field, you don’t want to just wail that ball as hard as you can. Because if it goes off the field it’s a penalty, and it’s actually going to hurt you. Peter Stone
The first competitions actually were in 2003, we didn’t win any of our games. We were the new team. We’d only been there for a few months, several of the other teams had been working for three to five years. [WHISTLE & CROWD CHEERS] The Spring of 2004 was actually a big turning point for us. We went to the U.S. open in New Orleans and, out of eight teams, finished in third place, and then went to Robocup and, out of 24 teams, made it to the quarter finals. We were one of the top eight and almost made it to the semi-finals. And then in 2005, again, we did both the US Open and Robocup. It was very close. We actually lost in the semi-finals one-nothing, and ended up in a scrimmage beating the team that eventually won. So the top three teams were all very closely matched, and we just ended up in third. So we’ve sort of established ourselves as one of the top teams, both in the country and the world. Peggy Fidelman
We’ve spent a lot of time the first year just getting them to walk, you know, in a way they didn’t fall over and as fast as we could. And just to be able to see things, just to be able to figure out where they were on the field and get to the places they wanted to go on the field. That kind of stuff has gotten more stable, so we’ve been able to do more interesting high-level work. If you have two attackers on the same side of the field, how should they cooperate in order to get the ball to the goal and not get in each other’s way. How to capture the ball more effectively, things like that. A couple of big differences about these robots: They have stronger motors…They have a faster processor, so they can do a little bit more calculation. This one is maybe 50 percent faster than the old walk. A lot of that is just the robot has stronger motors, but that’s not enough. We couldn’t just put the old walk on the new robot and have it be faster. We had to come up with a walk that made use of the stronger motors. All the equipment that the Aibo really has for detecting color and shape, or anything like that visual, is this little camera in it’s nose which is basically a low quality digital camera like you might take pictures with. Effectively all that the dog gets is numbers, just like a grid of numbers. And so it’s our job to tell the robot how to use those numbers and how to interpret them as colors. Peter Stone
Every year there’s something called challenge events, where they test out possible changes. There was a challenge event to use the black and white ball instead of the orange ball. And nobody really succeeded at it, so we are still using the orange ball. One of the teams in my class right now is trying to use the black and white ball and trying to solve that problem from a vision perspective. If they do that and demonstrate to the Robocup community that it is possible, then that may drive a change to the rules next year. Peggy Fidelman
So this is the ball it actually uses, so it can just look for a big blob of orange to see this. For this, it’s a lot more difficult. The simplest thing you might do is, say look for a big white blob with a lot of little black spots in it. But you could get the same effect by looking at a white robot for example, and you see some little dark spots on it too. And it’s really hard to say what’s the essential difference between that and that, in terms of just the colors. Peter Stone
So there are several different leagues within Robocup. In addition to Robocup Soccer, has placed a large focus on Robocup Rescue. So think using robots in disaster rescue scenarios. There is a new Robocup league starting up that uses the Segways, and it focuses on a new research challenge which is human robot interaction. So that every team has both a human riding a Segway and an autonomous robot built on a Segway platform, and they have to pass the ball back and forth and work together towards scoring a goal. The last Robocup was in Japan, in Osaka. And over the course of four days, there were 180,000 spectators that came to watch. So that doesn’t happen any where other than in Japan. Typically we have 5,000 or so spectators, but there it was a huge public event and it generated a lot of attention. Peggy Fidelman
One thing that’s really nice about these competitions, that’s nice about Robocup in general, is the fact that so many people are working on the same problem. And so you all sit off and think about this problem in your own separate place for most of the year, and then twice a year you all come together and talk about the various solutions you have come up with to the same problems. That’s a great learning experience. Peter Stone
Really our emphasis as much on the competition has been on using it as a platform for generating great research results. It really is an accomplishment what the students have done with these robots. [CROWD CHEERS]

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