ITHACA, N.Y. -- They didn't sing the old Cornell University football song"See them plunging down to the goal," but the school's Big Red team becamechampions of world robot "soccer" today (Aug. 4, 1999) when they beat ahighly regarded German team 15-0 in the finals in Stockholm, Sweden.
The event, called the Robot World Cup Initiative, familiarly known asRoboCup, pits teams of tiny but incredibly smart robots against each other.In the final, Cornell's team -- the first the university has fielded in the3-year-old competition -- played the FU-Fighters from the Free Universityof Berlin in a match carried live on Swedish television and streamed liveon the World Wide Web. One observer called the Cornell victory "adrubbing."
The Big Red was competing in the "small" league, in which robots are about6 inches in diameter and the playing field is the size of a regulationtable-tennis table.
RoboCup was created to foster research in robotics and artificialintelligence. Competitors must design robots that will operate as a teamand build vision systems to enable the robots to detect the ball anddistinguish between their own players and their opponents. The robots mustalso be able to decide on the best moves to put the ball into the otherteam's goal.
A team consists of five robots, communicating with their "mother" computerand with each other by radio. A video camera surveying the playing fieldtells the central computer where the players and the ball -- a golf ball --are. Individual robots also can have on-board sensors. Once programmed,the robotic system is completely on its own, with no remote control byhuman operators.
The Cornell system uses two computers, one to process information from thevideo camera and another to decide on strategy based on the videoinformation. The Cornell robots are about 7 inches tall and weigh about 2kilograms. They are driven by a 17-watt motor powered by a 9-volt batteryand can reach a speed of 2 meters per second in 0.7 seconds.
Unlike many robots in the competition, they have a spring-loaded "kicker"mechanism that can be used in special situations, in addition to bumpingthe ball. The goalie is a slightly different design, capable of movingrapidly from side to side.
The Big Red's road to the finals began last Thursday with a 2-1 victoryagainst a team fielded by the South Korean high-tech firm Robotis, winnersof the South Korean championship and heavy favorites in RoboCup.Continuing in the early round-robin play, Cornell defeated Portugal 8-0 andNew Zealand 33-0. In the quarterfinals on Monday, the Big Red routed a teamfrom Temasek Engineering School in Singapore 20-1 to reach to thesemifinals, where the Cornell robots advanced to the final by beating aSingapore team from Ngee Ann Polytechnic 6-2.
In preparation for the competition, Cornell developed two competing teams,known as Team Brazil and Team Italy. In a match played on the Ithacacampus in May, Team Brazil defeated Team Italy 4-0 and earned the right totravel to Stockholm. Thereafter, the best features of both team's designswere incorporated into the final robots.
One reason the Big Red has been so successful, according to faculty adviserBart Selman, associate professor of computer science, is that the team ismade up of a mix of graduate and undergraduate computer science, mechanicalengineering and electrical engineering students. "Most teams are fromcomputer science departments," Selman said.
Faculty advisers to the team, in addition to Selman, are RaffaelloD'Andrea, Cornell assistant professor of mechanical and aerospaceengineering, who coaches the team, Jin-Woo Lee, visiting lecturer inmechanical and aerospace engineering, and Norman Tien, assistant professorof electrical engineering.
The final RoboCup team was composed of Dennis Huang (team leader), SalmanQureshi, Mike Smullens, Thomas Karpati, Jason Oversmith, Alexander Lau,Alex Sepulveda, William Hegarty, Syaril Hussin, Charles Poon, ArisSamad-Yahaya, Christopher Lau and Aaron Delfausse.
Contributing to the design from Team Italy were David Hsu (team leader),Yooki Park, Scott Aaronson, Thibet Rungrotkitiyot, Ryan Hansen, Ray Chang,Harry Cuadrado, Lars Cremean, Ted Hwang, Livingston Cheng, Andrew Hoffman,Lance Hazer, Emily Winston and Stephen Chang-Chi Kao.
Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provideadditional information on this news release. Some might not be part of theCornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their contentor availability.
-- The RoboCup Competition site: <http://www.robocup.org/>
-- Cornell RoboCup team site:<http://www.mae.cornell.edu/Robocup/intro.html>
-- Live video from the competition:<http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/robocup/0,1518,31410,00.html>
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