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by KYW’s Dr. Marciene Mattleman

Millions have focused on the World Cup in Africa this month, but not students at Carnegie Mellon University. They’re heading to Singapore for a different international soccer competition — RoboCup 2010.

The students have developed CMDragons– fully autonomous humanoid robots capable of beating the world’s top soccer team. The University’s team has competed since the Cup began in 1997 and has won twice.

This year’s robot will out-dribble its opponents by predicting what will happen.
Stefan Zickler, whose work the robot was built on says, “When (it) has to manipulate the ball, the algorithm will creatively, on the spot, come up with new solutions.”

Previously, the robots were programmed to play reactively; this year they’ll be able to plan ahead, relying on knowledge of the ball’s behavior.
Zickler explains that they’re “teaching the robots the laws of physics and giving them more choice. They’re more adaptive.”

He hopes to improve the algorithm so that long term strategies can be developed.
Who knows? Maybe they’ll be able to negotiate a long term contract with a sponsor.

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