Frontlines | A League of Their Own

©2002 The University of Newcastle

It was a soccer match that truly belonged in its own league: eight small dog-shaped robots, four to a side, kicked, caught, and scored, as their human programmers watched from the sidelines.

Earlier this month, Carnegie Mellon University hosted the first International RoboCup Federation's American Open, gathering more than 150 researchers from North and South America to Pittsburgh, Pa., to witness the games. Carnegie defeated Georgia Institute of Technology in the league finals, 2-0, to earn the RoboCup, the most sought-after prize at the intersection of soccer and robotics. About the height of a soccer ball, the completely autonomous dog robots, which maneuver with their 'paws,' played on a field about the size of two adjoining ping-pong tables. "It's a bit like watching your kid in a school play," says Tucker Balch, assistant professor of computer science, Georgia...

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