Monday, 9 July 2012

Edinferno - Uni of Edinbugh's RoboCup team

The University of Edinburgh Informatics team had an exhibition at the Royal Society's Summer Exhibition recently, in which they demonstrated their work with robots, particularly regarding the machines ability to interact with the environment and people around it. This is of relevance for a number of potential applications, not least the fact that robots are being considered for “home-help” type applications for the elderly.

One way the group is developing the technology is by participating in the annual RoboCup championship. The competition has a number of classes, and the University of Edinburgh compete as “Edinferno” in the “standard platform” group where the teams all use the same design of robot - but develop their own software.

The research group, although much smaller that some of the big boys from the US and elsewhere, had a rollercoaster of a ride at the “RoboCup2012” competition in Mexico, where they were the only UK team !

Edinferno began the competition in Group H, where they had to play against favourites UT Austin Villa (University of Texas, USA), Cerebus (Boğaziçi University, Istambul, Turkey) and Bembelbots (Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.

They managed to give Cerebus a 5:0 whipping and hold Bembelbots to a 3:3 draw before losing to UT Austin Villa.

Having managed to score enough points to go through to the Internediate round, they now faced UChile. Concerns that they might struggle to overcome the natural latin american flair for football proved unfounded as Edinferno gave the south americans a 4:0 drumming. Edinferno were now clearly getting into their stride.

Progressing to the second round, Edinferno found themselves in Pool K and played a series of high scoring matches. Achieving two wins and one loss was enough to get Edinferno a place in the quarter finals.

Their opponents here in the last eight were B-Human, from the University of Bremen.

So that would be Germany.

Uh oh.

I think we can all see what is coming next.

Despite their undoubted pluck and against-the-odds efforts, the brave Edinferno robots went down in a 0:10 hammering by the clinical Europeans.


One can imagine the tears rolling down the cheeks of the University researchers as the final whistle blew. So close and yet so far. For those of you who like postmortems, competition results can be found here.

Some of the Edinferno Football playing robots having a gentle training session

Moving back to the Royal Society exhibition, one of the researchers explained that the aim was to have, by 2050, a team that could play the “human” world cup finalists - and win.

NSB can kinda see this happening and wonders whether the fact that the robots will learn some of their behaviour through trial and error will result in the players having differing “personalities”. Will their be some players that are more Gazza than Lineker?

Will they play to their strengths by simply spending the whole 90minutes constantly on the move, thus tiring out the human players?

This is certainly one project that is worth keeping an eye on!

Related Content : Interview with Eben Upton from Raspberry Pi

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