Robocup 2000: Some observations
Daniel Myall <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Robocup 2000 was held at the Melbourne exhibition centre this year (Figure 1) from the 27th of August to the 3rd of September. This is the 4th year that Robocup has been held, with it being held in Seattle in 2001 and Japan in 2002. Briefly, Robocup is focused around a series of competitions where robots in different leagues play soccer against each other. For a more complete description have a look at www.robocup.org and www.robocup2000.org
This article gives a general overview of Robocup 2000. If you are looking for the results of Robocup 2000, the above sites will give you all the information that you need. Most of the teams have websites that contain a lot more technical information. You should also see sometime actual footage of the event on TV sometime soon, as the media presence there was large.
Figure 1: The Melbourne Exhibition Centre.
The F2000 league has four robots on each team (Figure 2), with each robot being fully autonomous. Each robot has a colour camera (some used consumer camcorders), and most used either laptops, PC104, etc on the robot along with microcontrollers for the control systems. Little flippers and devices to shoot the ball were also extremely common.
Figure 2: The Winners of the 2000 competition.
During the games quite often the ball would get stuck in the corners were the referee would then reset the ball to allow the game to continue on. Other times the robots would get the ball, navigate around everything else, and shoot a great goal. The robots still seem to work individually, with it being very hard to pass the ball successfully. In the final it was decided by a penalty shootout that was interesting to watch.
Figure 3: Kickoff.
These games have 5 robots on each side controlled by radio links to a PC that has also a camera overhead the field to get full game information. The robots zip around very quickly, and the goalies work very well. Different teams use backspin (Figure 4, left) and other teams use rotational flippers (Figure 4, right) to control and shoot the ball. The games are very fun to watch.
Figure 4: The winners (left) and the runner-ups (right)
Figure 5: Coming to get the ball for a shoot at goal.
Figure 6: The full field
Figure 7: A penalty Shoot
Sony Dog League
Each team has 3 Sony dogs which they programme to play soccer. This year a team from Australia had modified the walk of the dog to a crab like motion that made it walk faster and be a lot more stable - they won in the final 10-0. Next year I'm quite sure no team will have such an advantage, and the games will be a lot closer.
Figure 8: 3D view of simulation
Each team has eleven players that connect to a central server to get their information and send their moves. There are many physical limitations, such as the accuracy that they can see the ball, stamina limitations, and how fast they can move. Watching the final was great - the two teams played very intelligently, and if they can eventually apply these strategies to the physical robots, they will play very well.
Robocup rescue is a new event that is planned to start in 2001, with some demonstrations being shown in Melbourne. There will be two main parts, simulation, and robotics and infrastructure. The robots demonstrated are used to examine dangerous places where it would be dangerous to send humans, such as chemical spills or earthquake zones.
Figure 9 : Tethered polymorphic robot.
The tethered polymorphic robot (Figure 9) has one colour camera and two small lights, and is controlled via a joystick and a set of buttons. It has limitations in that its tether quite often gets tangled, and it can be quite hard to control it from a distance using only the information from the camera. It can traverse most objects, and power considerations aren't a great concern.
Figure 10 : Wireless tracked robot.
The larger wireless version (Figure 10) is run of a SLA battery that lasts about an hour and a half, and takes two hours to charge. Changing the batteries isn't an option, as the design of the robot has it's weight distributed perfected so it is stable. It has a colour and black and white camera (front and top) and numerous sonar and tilt sensors to help control from a remote location. This robot can climb most stairs, and is quite powerful. It's controller computer runs Linux, and the control software isn't the most user-friendly system to use (Figure 11). There is a lot of room for future development here!
Figure 11 : Controller for the wireless tracked robot.
This year was supposed to show what the humanoids can do - but they weren't very successful. They could hardly walk, and had many problems - but some looked very good . Next year hopefully!
Figure 12: Pino the humanoid
I would consider Robocup to be very successful - the robots are making lots of progress (it used to be very hard for them to be even able to find the ball), and it is also entertaining to the general public. I do hope that they reach their goal of playing the human soccer team, but that is still a fair distance away.
If you want more technical information, more photos, or have any corrections, feel free to contact me at email@example.com