This weekend, Australia’s five-time world champion robot soccer team is jetting to Japan to take back the trophy ignominiously stolen from them last year. And it’s going to be a grudge match against Germany.
The 2017 RoboCup World Championships, being held in Nayoga from July 27 to 30, and UNSW's Runswift robotic soccer team is in it to win it. They're competing in the Standard Platform League, which uses Softbank's Nao robot as a hardware blueprint that teams have to write their own software for. Movement, vision processing and decision-making are all important and are either iterated on or rewritten for each yearly contest, and UNSW's 'walk engine' is the big upgrade for 2017.
The robots act entirely autonomously with no human contact, so onboard memory and algorithms have to do all the heavy lifting. And the rules change yearly: last year's black and white ball was a huge departure from the previous fluoro orange one, and was the deciding factor in UNSW's loss after five previous years of unbeaten success.
This year's antagonists? Team B-Human from Germany, a collaboration between the University of Bremen and the country's DKFI, translated as the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence. Like UNSW, they have five titles to their name and will be strong competition, alongside the team from the University of Austin in Texas.
The stakes are high, according to UNSW: "Like UNSW’s Runswift, B-Human have five world titles; a win by either team in Japan would crown them as the undisputed world champions." [Runswift]