Robots taking on robots? If you thought that was the stuff of game shows, toy manufacturers or multi-million dollar film franchises, think again. Mechanoids battling against their synthetic siblings for supremacy isn’t just a reality, but a sport. Football, to be precise.
Football fever is in the air this June as the whistle blows in Russia. Yet, over in Canada some decidedly more android athletes look set to take to the pitch in pursuit of glory.
It’s all kicking off in Canada
The Canadian city of Montreal is playing host to RoboCup 2018. It’s a week-long collaborative initiative that seeks to advance state-of-the-art intelligent robotics. At the heart of it is the football tournament that pits machine against machine. 35 countries, 5,000 robots and not a single half time orange.
The inaugural tournament was held in 1997. By 2050 the organisers behind RoboCup would like to see a team of robots take on and beat a team of world-class human players. RoboCup’s constant hive of ingenuity is devoted to making this possibility a reality. Who’s to say we won’t one day be cheering on Ronaldo’s grandson as he nutmegs his robotic counterpart?
Stress testing for six-a-side
One team that can’t wait to get their mechanoids limbered up is RoboTeam Twente. This band of eager students from the Netherlands’ University of Twente is diving into the challenge of RoboCup with their own robotic team.
Students from a diverse range of sciences such as Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and Advanced Technology, RoboTeam Twente has collaborated, engineered and crafted six ball-kicking ‘bots to tackle their artificial opponents.
That football team is taking to the pitch courtesy of SOLIDWORKS. It remains to be seen whether RoboTeam Twente has saved themselves goals conceded in the matches, but by utilising SOLIDWORKS the students have certainly saved time and expense during the planning stages.
How so? Artificial intelligence (AI) doesn’t come cheap. Applying modification on the fly and stress-testing within SOLIDWORKS prevents the need for costly, time-sinking prototype rebuilds. In a crowdfunded project where every donated penny is squeezed extra tight for added value, that’s got to be a bonus.
The small (but still beautiful) game
Secondly, robotics that seek to score big on the pitch require precision-engineering. The design process for the automated players must be pin-sharp in its accuracy to account for every last millimetre. For RoboTeam Twente, size really does matter.
The team is preparing for domination in the tournament’s Small Size League. In deference to the frenetic pace and confines of a football match, the team built a centralised system that makes the decisions for every robot in a team. It’s a tricky, fiddly process that SOLIDWORKS facilitated seamlessly, with some assistance from its reseller Design Solutions.
The RoboCup tournament was created to drive a deeper understanding and mastery of AI, robotic manoeuvrability and innovation. The incentive of competition is a tremendous catalyst for creativity; the lustre of victory ensuring all participants bring their A-game to the pitch. This June prepare to be amazed and enthralled by football’s latest stars. Batteries definitely included.