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Robots prepare to invade Australia

Hundreds of robots will arrive in Sydney in 2019 to battle for the coveted RoboCup – the football World Cup for robots.

The RoboCup International Symposium and World Championship pits teams against each other testing AI software that drives the robots, rather than the mechanics of the robots themselves. 

“This is the ‘space race’ of robotics,” said Professor Maurice Pagnucco, Deputy Dean (Education) in Engineering and Head of the School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and a noted expert in artificial intelligence and cognitive robotics.

“Competition pushes advances in technologies. What we learn from robots playing soccer or navigating a maze can be applied to industry and help us solve difficult real-world problems.”

He cited the example of the vision system developed by UNSW for RoboCup, which is now being used to track the hands of workers in a saw mill, to ensure the machinery avoids causing injuries.

In all leagues, robots operate fully autonomously, with no remote control by either humans or computers during games.

RoboCup aims  – by 2050 – to field a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots capable of defeating the World Cup-winning squad in a match governed by FIFA’s official rules.

More than 2,000 researchers and innovators from 50 nations will be in Sydney for RoboCup events that, on top of the soccer games, extend to search-and-rescue, caregiving assistance and other real-world scenarios.

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, welcomed the win. “RoboCup will be a major event for Sydney and will be another way to spark interest nationally in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects that are so important to preparing young people for work in a rapidly-changing world.”

Bill Condie

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

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