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University of Plymouth robot footballers take on world

31 August 10 16:15

A football team made up of robots developed by the University of Plymouth is aiming to beat the best from around the world.

The team will be competing against others from about 50 countries in the Federation of International Robot-soccer Association (FIRA) competition.

Skills such as sight and running will be tested in the event in India.

The robots can see the ball and the goal using colour-coded signals that they recognise.

Tony Belpaeme, a lecturer at the university's Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems, is sending a team of 10 robots to the competition in Bangalore, along with about six students.

The university has done well in previous competitions, but this is the first FIRA event that it has entered with both standing and walking robots.

Mr Belpaeme said: "Anything that computers can do well, such as calculations, is hard for humans.

"But anything we do that we don't even think about, such as walking and talking, is hard for them.

"Humans have many tiny muscles, which it is hard to replicate in computers.

"There is a lot of shuffling about with robots."

He added: "We won the sprinting at another competition, but that was because ours were the only ones that hadn't fallen over."

Robot footballers can be confused easily by someone nearby wearing a brightly coloured T-shirt which they sense is the ball.

"It is going to be fun and exciting," said Mr Belpaeme.

"The students will learn a lot and come back brimming with ideas."

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