Founded in 1997 with the ambitious goal to develop a robotic humanoid soccer-playing robot by 2050, the RoboCup is an annual robotics competition that sees robots play soccer against each other in an exercise of AI and applied robotics.
Each year of the competition also features a robot-on-human soccer game. And every once in a while, the robots will score a goal on the humans, just as they did this year in the above GIF.
They've happened in the past, but robot-on-human soccer goals at RoboCup are becoming a bigger deal. It's simply a function of goal quality being so dramatically improved over years before — robot AI is increasingly capable of masterminding some soccer strategy on our flesh-and-blood would-be Beckhams, and then putting that strategy to work effectively.
IEEE Spectrum's Evan Ackerman gives the play-by-play on how the above GIF breaks down in favor of the robots :
[T]his play was very far from dumb luck: Tech United Eindhoven's robots made a pass, the striker robot looked at the goal and saw a defender in the way, decided not to shoot, made a pass instead, and the wing robot put it right into the side of the goal. Most of the humans weren't particularly aggressive, but the defender dude looked like he was actually trying pretty hard there, and he couldn't stop the attack.
The soccer element is just one part of RoboCup competition, now entering its 19th year with the 2015 challenge to be held in Hefei, China. The other two branches of competition are RoboCup Rescue, which simulates rescuing survivors from a disaster area, and RoboCup@Home, a competition for domestic service robots.
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