Achieving great things with the little ones
Shot and ... Goal! Cheering outside the field. Surprisingly, it's not proud parents of young football players cheering. A dozen of knee-high robots is playing football against each other. What was that? Foul! One of the plastic buddied is going down with a stoic innocent look. It is comical to watch. But what's behind all this: a lot of work and many years of research that have gone into it. Scientists are trying to follow the humans' example.
This is the attraction. A human being learns to orientate himself and to move throughout his life. Teaching a robot theses skills is a highly demanding task. Everything that is normal to us- let it be recognizing the ball or moving one foot after the other- is absolutely not trivial for the bundle of cameras, motors, and circuits. The work with robots makes us realize and understand the complexity of these events and the limits of technology.
The robots' tasks are diverse. First of all, they need to orientate themselves in their surrounding to know where the goals are and in which one they have to shoot the ball. Many clues are being analysed, e.g. the field's lines. If one player is unsure where he is, the all communicate among each other. It is even possible to change one player's mind. While the goal is clear, they also have to figure out the way. A robot constantly has to decide between several options: Which way do I take? When shall I shoot? Decisions that highly influence the result of the game.
Developments in this field of research are terrific, fast and exciting. And they can be observed by spectators. From bachelor student to graduate student studying for a doctorate, there are many different topics: reaching from the recognition of objects to balanced movements. Success and results can be seen and measured at competitions that regularly take place at exhibitions and fairs - they definitely are a crowd puller.