RoboCup 2012 recently took place in Mexico City. The Humanoid league games may not yet have the status of the UEFA European Football Championship, which were taking place at the same time. Even so, robots are probably on course to take on human players within a few decades.
RoboCup isn't just about robot soccer and this video report by Carissa Marina for BotSport reminds about the competitions for rescue robots, for robots in the home environment and for dancing robots, which is one of the competitions that kids compete in at RoboCup events, along with a soccer competition.
When it comes to soccer there are several competitions including the Simulation League title, in which artificially intelligent robots compete on-screen in simulated soccer games.
Moving to the pitch, there are two non-humanoid competitions, for small-sized robots, won this year by the Scuba team from Kasetsart University.,Thailand, and for middle-sized robots, won by the Tech United team from Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands.
It is, however, the Humanoid Robots soccer players that attract most attention and the following videos are of the finals of these contests.
In the Kid Size League, for robots between 30-60 cm in height, USA's Team DARwin, a joint effort between University of Pennsylvania and Virginia, triumphed with a score of 8-2 over CIT Brains from the Chiba Institute of Technology, Japan for the second year in a row. According to Paul Miller who went to Mexico City for The Verge:
After its success last year at RoboCup, the [DARwin OP] robot — commercialized by Robotis — has been selling like crazy, and about a third of the KidSize teams at RoboCup this year were using it.
Team DARwin also competed in the the Teen Size League, for robots between 100-120 cm in height, with its new DARwin XOS robot but didn't get to the finals in which Japan's CIT Brains Teen were defeated by NimBro TeenSize, from the University of Bonn, Germany.
A new NimBro model, nicknamed "Albert" for his shock white hair, took the Louis Vuitton Humanoid Cup for "Best Humanoid", which was won last year by Virginia Tech's CHARLI-2, the robot which truimphed this year in the Adult Size league. The adult contest isn't about team work. Instead individual robots between 130-160cm compete with their skills for dribbling, kicking, throw-ins etc and in this year's final CHARLI-2 was up against Tsinghua Hephaestus from China.
It is perhaps the Standard Platform league, competition where all the teams consist of four NAO robots, that attracts the most attention.
The UT Austin Villa RoboCup Team (pink) plays at the 2012 Robot Soccer World Cup in Mexico City.
This year's final was between USA and Germany. The University of Texas Austin Villa Team took on Humboldt team from the University of Bremen; which had won in the previous three years and claimed victory with a final score of 4-2.
The aim of the RoboCup challenge is that by the year 2050 a humanoid robot team will be capable of taking on and beating a human team - so rather than Spain versus Italy will we in future see Combined Euro Humans versus Best of European Robots in 2052?
May be - but there are some problems to overcome - and this video of "bloopers" from RoboCup illustrates some of them.