You probably didn’t know that the United States has robot soccer teams. But in fact this week, just a handful of days after the USWNT took home the World Cup gold in Canada, our ladies’ America-repping humanoid counterparts won a title of their own at the 2015 RoboCup.
This champion red-white-and-blue team of fútbol bots — named THORwIn — was developed by the University of Pennsylvania and UCLA. It beat out an Iranian-built squad 5-4 in the Wednesday “adult size” finals match in Hefei, China.
The worldwide Robot Soccer World Cup (RoboCup for short) has been held annually since 1997, with countries from all over the globe entering robot teams of different sizes and shapes to compete in its various sub-leagues. The robot players in RoboCup matches are required to be autonomous, meaning they are not being controlled by humans during gameplay.
A total of 175 robot teams from 47 different countries and regions took part in RoboCup 2015.
One type of RoboCup match, called Standard Platform, forces each team to use identically built humanoid robots. These unique rules make the competition all about software AI programming, not actual robot building. The 2015 Standard Platform champs were the UNSW Australia bots, but American-made teams have topped this competition three times since 1999.
With American women’s and robot soccer teams on a winning roll, all we need now is for the men to catch up with some Cup gold of their own. Of course, by the time they have their next chance at World Cup 2018, some of our humanoid teams may have managed to squeeze in a three-peat or two. So catching up could be tough.
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