Robocup: World Cup for robots (video)

Robocup: World Cup for robots (video)

Brazil is also hosting World RoboCup 2014 with Thailand fielding a team. Robots have a long way to go but may challenge humans in a decade or two.


Football-playing robots eye their own cup, and beyond


AFP News agency

Soccer playing robots from the Hanuman team at King Mongkut's University Of Technology Thonburi (FIBO KMUTT) that will represent Thailand at the World RoboCup 2014 held in Brazil.

When robots play football, it looks like a game played by five-year-olds: they swarm around the ball, kick haphazardly and fall down a lot.

But robot teams have made strides in recent years, and some researchers believe the humanoids could challenge the world's best players in a decade or two.

"Maybe in 20 years we could develop a team of robots to play against the best World Cup teams," said Daniel Lee, who heads the University of Pennsylvania robotics lab, which is seeking a fourth consecutive RoboCup in Brazil next month, the premiere event for robotic football.

Robotic football, says Lee, is more than fun and games. It involves artificial intelligence and complex algorithms that help provide a better understanding of human vision, cognition and mobility.

Students from the the University of Pennsylvania General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory observe as their robots play soccer during a live demonstration on June 12, 2014 at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC. (Source: AFP)

Similar technology can be used for robots that perform household tasks or search and rescue, and for self-driving cars, said Lee, who led a demonstration of his robot football team Wednesday at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.

Lee said robots have improved their game from a decade ago, having moved from four-legged doglike machines to two-legged humanoid forms.

But he said there is still a lot to be learned before robotic football can be competitive with humans. The robots in Wednesday's demo still moved awkwardly, sometimes failed to locate the ball, and often ended up in collisions or fell over on their own.

"We have machines that can beat us in chess," he said. "But we (humans) can still kick their butts in soccer."

Because the robots are autonomous, they need to be able to handle all kinds of tasks humans take for granted: finding the ball, responding to different light conditions and terrain, and determining the best strategy.

A soccer playing robot from Thailand's Hanuman team.

"Our robots are calculating everything terms of probability," he said, which means a human can outsmart a machine.

"In creativity, humans have an advantage."

The Penn student team took home the RoboCup in the Netherlands in 2013 for the third year running, after victories in Mexico City in 2012 and Istanbul in 2011.

Lee said the research draws from a variety of disciplines, from engineering to anatomy to knowledge of sports.

The biggest challenge is to develop the type of awareness and intelligence that athletes have.

"What is difficult is to understand the intent of the other team, that is what prevents us from being more sophisticated," Lee said.

And in addition to developing technology for individual robots, the researchers need to find better ways for the machines to communicate with each other to coordinate strategy.

Lee said all this requires "a deep understanding of intelligence," and added that "we are still many years away."

Hanuman is the name of the football playing robot built by students at King Mongkut's University Of Technology Thonburi (FIBO KMUTT) that will represent Thailand at the World RoboCup 2014 held in Brazil just like the World Cup. 

The robot Hanuman recently triumphed at the 2013 Thailand Humanoid Soccer Robots Championship - the fourth consecutive year that the team won first prize at Thailand's most important competition in robotic technology. In 2015, Thailand will host the World RoboCup.

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  • advantage: a condition giving a greater chance of success - ความได้เปรียบ
  • algorithm: a set of rules that must be followed when solving a particular problem - ชุดของคำสั่งที่สร้างไว้ตามขั้นตอน, อัลกอริธึม
  • anatomy: the scientific study of the structure of human or animal bodies - กายวิภาคศาสตร์
  • artificial intelligence: an area of study concerned with making computers copy intelligent human behaviour - ปัญญาประดิษฐ์
  • athlete: someone who is good at sports and takes part in sports competitions - นักกีฬา
  • autonomous (adj): able to do things and make decisions without help from anyone else - ซึ่งอยู่ได้ด้วยตนเอง, ซึ่งพึ่งตนเองได้
  • awareness: knowing that something exists, or having knowledge or experience of a particular thing - การรับรู้, การทราบ, ความตระหนัก
  • awkwardly: moving in a difficult way; not moving in an easy way; not comfortable - งุ่มง่าม
  • beat: to win over someone; to defeat someone - ชนะ
  • challenge: something that needs a lot of skill, energy, and determination to deal with or achieve - สิ่งที่ท้าทาย, การท้าทาย
  • challenge: to compete for something - แข่งขัน
  • championship: a competition to find the best player or team in a sport or game - การแข่งขันเพื่อได้ตัวผู้ชนะเลิศ
  • collision: two or more objects hitting each other - การชนกัน
  • communicate (verb): to express thoughts, feelings, or information to another person or animal, for example by speaking or writing - สื่อสาร, ติดต่อสื่อสาร
  • competition: a situation in which people or organizations compete, i.e., try to be more successful or better than somebody else who is trying to do the same as you - การแข่งขัน
  • competitive: having a high level of close competition - แข่งขันสูง
  • complex: having a lot of details or small parts that make it difficult to understand or deal with - ซับซ้อน
  • condition: the physical state of a person, animal, thing or place - สภาพ
  • consecutive: following one after another in order - ติดต่อกัน
  • coordinate: to organise the different parts of a job or plan so that the people involved work together effectively - ประสานงานกัน
  • creativity: the ability to create new ideas or things using your imagination - ความสามารถในการสร้างสรรค์, ความคิดสร้างสรรค์
  • decade: a period of ten years - ทศวรรษ
  • demo (noun): showing people how a product works - สาธิต, เดโม่
  • demonstration: showing something or explaining how it works - การสาธิต
  • determine: to find out or decide something - ตัดสินใจ  ระบุ
  • develop: to think of or produce a new idea, product, etc. and make it successful; to build new houses, factories, etc. on an area of land, especially land that was not being used effectively before - พัฒนา
  • discipline: a particular sport or activity that requires training and effort; a subject that people study, especially at a university - ศิลปปฎิบัติ, ,สาขาวิชา
  • draw (verb): to pull or suck something in/out - ดูด
  • engineer: a person who arranges for something to happen, especially in a skilful way - ผู้วางแผน
  • engineer: to arrange for something to happen, especially in a useful and skilful way - วางแผน
  • engineering (noun): the activity of applying scientific knowledge to the design, building and control of machines, roads, bridges, electrical equipment, etc - วิศวกรรมศาสตร์
  • form: the particular way something is, seems, looks or is presented; a type or variety of something - รูปแบบ, รูปทรง
  • foundation: an organisation that provides money for things such as medical research or for a charity - มูลนิธิ
  • host: to provide the space and other things necessary for a special event - ทำหน้าที่เป็นเจ้าภาพ, เป็นผู้จัดรายการ
  • household tasks: everyday work around the house which is often boring or unpleasant but needs to be done regularly; household chores - งานบ้าน
  • humanoid (noun): a machine or creature that looks and behaves like a human - เครื่องที่มีลักษณะของมนุษย์
  • individual: a person considered separately rather than as part of a group - บุคคล
  • intelligence: the ability to understand and think about things, and to gain and use knowledge - สติปัญญา, ความเฉลียวฉลาด,ไหวพริบ
  • intent (noun): your plan or purpose - จุดประสงค์, เจตนา
  • kick their butts: beat them; win a game or contest or sports match -
  • knowledge (noun): all the facts that people know about a subject (example: medical knowledge) - ความรู้
  • locate: to find where someone or something is - หาทำเล,หาที่ตั้ง
  • made strides: made progress -
  • mobility: the ability to move or travel around easily - การเคลื่อนที่ได้ง่าย, การเคลื่อนไหว
  • participate: to take part in or become involved in an activity - มีส่วน
  • perform a duty: to do what your job requires - ปฏิบัติหน้าที่
  • premiere event for: most important event for ... -
  • prevent (verb): to stop somebody from doing something; to stop something from happening - ขัดขวาง, ป้องกัน, กัน, กีดขวาง
  • prize: money or trophy given to someone who wins a competition - รางวัล
  • recently (adverb): not long ago - เมื่อไม่นานมานี้, เมื่อเร็วๆ นี้
  • represent: to act, speak or be present officially for another person or people - เป็นตัวแทน
  • rescue: saving a person or animal from a dangerous or unpleasant situation - การช่วยชีวิต
  • research: a careful study of a subject, especially in order to discover new facts or information about it - การวิจัย
  • researcher: a person who carriers out a careful study of a subject, especially in order to discover new facts or information about it - นักวิจัย
  • respond: to say or do something as a reaction to something that has been said or done - ตอบสนอง, ตอบรับ
  • robotic (adj): connected with robots (machines that can perform a complicated series of tasks automatically) - เกี่ยวกับหุ่นยนต์
  • robotics: the science of designing and operating robots - การออกแบบหุ่นยนต์
  • running: in a row, consecutively; doing or achieving something many times continuously without a break -
  • search (noun): looking somewhere or through something carefully in order to find something - การค้นหา
  • seek: to try to obtain or achieve something - พยายามได้มา
  • similar: like somebody/something but not exactly the same - คล้ายกัน
  • sophisticated: complicated and advanced in design or planning - ซับซ้อน
  • strategy: a plan or method for achieving something, especially over a long period of time - ยุทธวิธี, แผนการ  
  • stride: walking with long steps in a particular direction - การเดินก้าวยาวๆ
  • swarm: a large number of people moving together as a group - กลุ่มคนหรือสัตว์จำนวนมากมาย
  • take for granted (idiom): to expect someone/something will always be there for you; to fail to give something its true importance; to believe something is true without first making sure that it is - ไม่เห็นคุณค่า, ทึกทัก
  • task: something that you have to do - งาน, หน้าที่; ภารกิจ
  • terrain: an area of land, usually one that has particular physical features - ภูมิประเทศ
  • think tank: an organization that does research to help the government or companies with their work - คณะทำงานระดับมันสมอง, กลุ่มคนที่ทำงานเกี่ยวกับการวิจัย, คณะวิจัย
  • triumph: a great victory or success - ชัยชนะครั้งใหญ่
  • variety (noun): many different types of things or people - ความหลากหลาย
  • victory: winning a competition or a battle - ชัยชนะ
  • vision: the ability to see; the area that you can see from a particular position - การมองเห็น
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