Living in walking distance of a college Field House and sports field lends itself to very easy access to plenty of sporting events. I'm not all that into sports, but I like the idea of cheering on the students and the school. But I never expected to experience this kind of sporting event in a hockey arena:
This, my dear Lobsters, is RoboCup.
According to the Bowdoin team, "Northern Bites," blog, RoboCup is where teams consisting of Nao robots each play soccer on a field of 7.4m x 5.4 m. They write computer programs for these robots to play on the field. "The robots operate fully autonomously; there is no external control by humans or computers." Awesome.
Apparently, the Northern Bites have a pretty spectacular history. In 2007, they were RoboCup world champions. They weren't quite playing up to their former glory this time around. They scored two goals, yay! Problem was, one of them was on their own goal, so the technical truth is that they only scored one point for their team.
Supposedly the thing that has changed since their glory days is that they are now bipeds instead of four legged dog robots [see their victory game in the world championship in this video]. Less legs means less balance, which means less goals. I kinda wish they hadn't switched because it seems like the dogs made for a much more exciting game. Also it is fun for your team to win.
The bipeds take tiny baby steps that make for insufficient action to keep a toddler entertained for any sustained period of time. In general, I think Sofia really enjoyed it, "Yay! Dolls!" she proclaimed over and over. But Manny and I didn't get to pay too close attention because at least one of us was chasing her around the stadium seating most of the time. Furthermore, the halves are only ten minutes long, with ten minute half-time breaks in between, so if you blinked, you missed the play all together, toddler or not.
|robots charging up during half time|
That said, it was really fun to watch those little baby steps and see little robots playing soccer together. My favorite part was when they would try to lean their leg up to make a kick, and fall over, and then try to get back up.
He he he. It just makes me giggle. Apparently this was the easiest type of code to write. But doesn't it look cool??
So the action was a bit slow, but the whole idea seems really cool. I'd love to return, with Sofia, in a couple years. By then, I hope she'll have the attention span to appreciate it a bit more, and the Northern Bites will have had some time to figure these bipeds out and return to their former glory.