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DC at Night

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Will Robots Someday Win Soccer's World Cup?

DC's Smithsonian museums (there are 17 of them here in the city) are among America's most treasured and visited places. But the Smithsonian also publishes a series of some of the most interesting, fact-filled blogs appearing anywhere on the internet. Each Sunday, The Prices Do DC re-posts an entry about the Smithsonian, many of which appeared in 1 of the institution's blogs. Hope you enjoy and maybe we'll see you soon at the Smithsonian.


In 1997, man and machine went head-to-head in a battle of strategical prowess; after six games of chess, world champion Garry Kasparov was defeated by IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer. It was hailed as a seminal moment in computer science—if a computer could beat a human at chess, a game long held as the pinnacle of mental strategy, what else could computers accomplish?
A little more than three months after Kasparov's defeat, a cadre of robotics experts sought to push another boundary in artificial intelligence. Convening in Nagoya, Japan, during the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 40 teams of robotics experts participated in the world's first Robotics Cup. Their stated objective: By the middle of the 21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official rules of FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup.
The manifesto, which might seem more like science fiction than a practical goal, wasn't an entirely new idea to the robotics community even in 1997. The concept of a robot soccer game had been kicked around the robotics community for years—it was first mentioned by Professor Alan Mackworth, of the University of British Columbia, in his paper "On Seeing Robots," where he argued that building a robotic soccer team could help solve several problems of modern robotics (their inability to cooperate, for instance, or their inability to determine where the ball might go). From that paper, Mackworth and his team at UBC launched the Dynamo Project, the world's first attempt at an autonomous robotic soccer team. The Dynamo Project carried out a series of successful experiments from 1992 through 1994, and is seen by many as the crucial precursor to the Robotics Cup.
To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in Smithsonian.com, click here

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