Humanoid league.

Well, today certainly has been a day of revelations. First Monk-E-mail, then the top searched keywords at NYTimes.com, then, on my drive from New York to Philly, I discovered that I know all the lyrics to Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eyes” like they were written in my soul. And now, there’s RoboCup.

Did you people know about RoboCup and you were just holding out on me? For shame, procrastinators. For shame.

For those of you who have not been cruelly withholding vital information and have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain. RoboCup is, apparently, an international organization of scientists-cum-sports-enthusiasts dedicated to the development of “a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots that can win against the human world soccer champion team” by the year 2050. There are a number of branches to this revolutionary endeavor, mostly oriented toward soccer, whether played by tiny robots, medium-sized robots, robot dogs, or full-sized humanoid robots, but there is also something called RoboCup Junior that hosts an annual dance competition in which “one or more robots wear costumes and move creatively to music.”

I swear to you, I am not making any of this up.

I was alerted to the goings-on of the robot soccer world by my Providence correspondent, Z, who forwarded the following announcement by the Brown University RoboCup Club:

The Brown Robocup Club will be hosting a robot soccer demonstration Tuesday May 9th between 1-4pm in the CIT Lobby. Robocup is a world-wide effort to create robots that can win in soccer against the human World Cup Champion. Toward this goal, we will exhibit Sony Aibo robot dogs facing off in 4-on-4 soccer matches. These robots play soccer autonomously based on computer programs written by our team of Brown undergraduate and graduate students. Additionally, a remote control interface will be available for visitors to control a robot player during the matches. This interface provides a first person sense of playing robot soccer.

Were you so tickled by the clever pun in “toward this goal” that you were seduced into thinking that “we will exhibit Sony Aibo robot dogs facing off in 4-on-4 soccer matches” was a perfectly normal way to complete a sentence? I was, briefly. Then the questions started pouring in. Who knew that Brown had a robot soccer team? Are we so acclimated as a culture to the idea that dogs can play soccer that we’re ready to accept robot dogs playing soccer? Shouldn’t the dog version really be called RoboPupCup? And what could a “first person sense of playing robot soccer” possibly mean?

I am having a strange day.

7 thoughts on “Humanoid league.

  1. And what could a “first person sense of playing robot soccer” possibly mean?

    What? You mean you’ve never felt that you were a remotely controled soccer-playing dog? Your graduate program was clearly very different from mine.

  2. Hmm. When you use the term “Robo” it reminds me of the term “Robo-trip”, which is one example of the proof of the saying “Necessity is the mother of invention”. In case you’re not familiar with a “robo-trip”, it is when desperately poor alcoholics consume a whole bottle of Robutussin in order to experience the inebriation this produces.
    So could you have a “RoboPupCup” hosted by scientists who are “robo-tripping”?

  3. My daughter competed in RoboCup Jr a few months ago in New York City. Her robot tied for first place in the dance competition and next week she’s competing at MIT in the regionals.

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