RoboCup is an attempt to promote Al and robotics research by providing a common task, soccer, for evaluation of various theories, algorithms, and agent architectures (Kitano, Asada, et al. 1997). RoboCup-97, the First Robot World Cup Soccer Games and Conferences, was held on 22-28 August 1997 at the Fifteenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-97) (figure 1). It was organized by RoboCup Japanese National Committee and Nihon Keizai Shinbun Inc., and it was sponsored by Namco Limited, Sony Corporation, Nihon Sun Microsystems K.K., and Itochu Techno-Science Corporation. Over 5000 people watched the games, and over 100 international media (such as CNN, ABC, Le Monde, Le Figaro, Der Spigel, The Australian, NHK, and Sky Channels), as well as prominent scientific magazines such as Science, covered them. The First RoboCup Workshop was also held (Kitano 1997). This article reports on RoboCup-97.
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RoboCup-97 had two leagues: (1) the real-robot league and (2) the simulation league. Aside from the world championship awards, RoboCup created the RoboCup Scientific Challenge Award and the Engineering Challenge Award to be equally prestigious. Detailed information about RoboCup is given at www. robocup.org/RoboCup. In this issue of AI Magazine, winners of each league contributed an article describing scientific aspects of their teams.
The Real-Robot League, which uses physical robots to play soccer games, consists of several categories. At RoboCup-97, there were two categories for game competition and one for skill competition.
The small-size league is a team consisting of five robots and plays on a field that is equivalent to one Ping-Pong table. Each robot is about 15 centimeters (cm) in diameter, or under 180 [cm.sup.2], and the maximum length must be less than 18 cm. An orange golf ball is used.
In the middle-size league, there are five robots to a team, and each robot must be less than 50 cm in diameter, or 2,000 [cm.sup.2]. A Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) size-4 Futsal ball is used. The field of play is equivalent to 9 Ping-Pong tables (3 tables by 3 tables).
The expert-robot league is for competition between robots having special skills. These skills concentrate on isolated aspects of the game of soccer.
For the real-robot league at RoboCup-97, about 10 teams throughout the world participated in the competition: 4 teams (CMUNITED [Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)], MICROB [Paris-VI, France], ROGI-II [University of Girona, Spain], and NAIST [Nara Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan]) in the small-size robot league, 5 teams (DREAMTEAM [Information Sciences Institute-University of Southern California (USC-ISI)], TRACKIES [Osaka University, Japan], ULLANTA [Ullanta Performance Robotics, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Australia], and UTTORI UNITED [a joint team of Riken, Toyo University, and Utsunomiya University, Japan]) in the middle-size league, and 2 teams (RMIT [Australia] and Colorado School of Mines) in the expert-robot league.
The Small-Size Robot League
For the small-size robot league, the use of a global vision system is permitted, which enables the team to plot absolute position information for each robot and the ball.
Figure 2 shows a game setup of the small-size league. This league is played on a field equivalent to a Ping-Pong table, which is 152.5 cm by 274.0 cm. This size was selected because a Ping-Pong table is a low-cost standardized material that can be purchased throughout the world. We initially defined a field as 1/100 of the FIFA world cup field, which is 120 meters (m) by 90 m, but researchers would have had to build everything from scratch. Considering the amount of work that has to be done in building robots, field construction really presents no major effort, but it seemed important that necessary materials be widely available. …