Founded in 1997 with the ambitious goal to develop a robotic humanoid soccer-playing robot by 2050, the RoboCup is an annual robotics competition that sees robots play soccer against each other in an exercise of AI and applied robotics.
Each year of the competition also features a robot-on-human soccer game. And every once in a while, the robots will score a goal on the humans, just as they did this year in the above GIF.
They've happened in the past, but robot-on-human soccer goals at RoboCup are becoming a bigger deal. It's simply a function of goal quality being so dramatically improved over years before — robot AI is increasingly capable of masterminding some soccer strategy on our flesh-and-blood would-be Beckhams, and then putting that strategy to work effectively.
Can humanoid robots save lives? Will they have the capacity to be our friends? Dennis Hong, founding director of Virginia Tech's Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa), is making this happen by teaching robots how to win at soccer and by entering the DARPA Robotics Challenge.
Limbless organisms such as snakes can navigate nearly all terrain. In particular, desert-dwelling sidewinder rattlesnakes (Crotalus cerastes) operate effectively on inclined granular media (such as sand dunes) that induce failure in field-tested limbless robots through slipping and pitching. Our laboratory experiments reveal that as granular incline angle increases, sidewinder rattlesnakes increase the length of their body in contact with the sand. Implementing this strategy in a physical robot model of the snake enables the device to ascend sandy slopes close to the angle of maximum slope stability.