Former world champions B-Human recently beat Nao-Team HTWK in a tense final of the Standard Platform League of the RoboCup German Open. With the size of the pitch more than doubled, the standard of play seemed similarly increased.
Eight teams from across Europe took part in the Standard Platform League of RoboCup German Open 2013 held in Magdeburg, April 26-28. And for the first time in watching robot soccer video I was moved to stand up and shout "Shoot"...
In the Standard Platform League, all teams use the same hardware, currently Aldebaran's humanoid robot Nao, and only differ in the software they develop.
Nao seems to be well suited to playing football by Nao by being equipped with 25 actuated joints, three accelerometers and two gyroscopes and having two cameras for perceiving the environment. Sonar sensors in it's chest can measure distance to other object on the field and there are sensors in it's feet that detect ground contact and contact with the ball.
The final was played between B-Human a team from the University of Bremen and the Cyber-Physical Systems research group of the DFKI and the University of Leipzig's Nao-Team HTWK. In the first half both teams seemed very evenly matched and the score at half time was 1-1. In the second half, shown in the video below, B-Human scored a further six goals while HTWK only added on more, making the final score 7-2.
According to DFKI's report of the final, the increased pitch size, now 9 m by 6 m, and the fact that each team now has 5 rather than 4 robots, has led to more sophisticated play. Both finalists used the extra robot in the opponents half so that they could quickly forward the ball, Bremen's use of short passes followed by shooting straight at the opponent's goal was the tactic that won them the final.
This is the first time that Robot soccer has reached the level of even being slightly exciting and it does make the idea that they could defeat a human team by 2050, the goal of Robocup, seem feasible at last.