Football is driving advances in artificial intelligence – here’s how

  • The complexities of football make it a difficult feat of artificial intelligence and autonomous technologies.
  • The International RoboCup Association organizes robot football matches and publishes scientific papers on machine learning.
  • Experts point out that advances in robotic football have major implications for other forms of automation.

In 1997, a computer program was named Dark blue Beat the world chess leader, Garry Kasparov, in a highly publicized chess match, lasting several days. Enthusiasts have discussed game justicebut the victory of the computer was head teacher for machine learning.

Today, researchers are using another game to develop artificial intelligence (AI) and automation: soccer.

Flexibility, strategy and teamwork required in football makes beautiful game It is a difficult and fruitful feat of artificial intelligence and autonomous technologies. The International Robotics Federation, which organizes robot football tournaments around the world, has long been spearheading such efforts.

“The RoboCup is a very special and uniquely inspiring event,” said Peter Stone, former president of RoboCup and CEO of Sony AI America, an artificial intelligence development and research company. “It integrates long-term and ambitious thinking about how AI and robotics can change the world with practical and immediate considerations regarding how we design, build and program prototypes and robots specifically designed for sensing, decision making, and behaving.”

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Under the RoboCup rules, each team must consist of completely independent robotic soccer players; Once the match starts, human coaches are not allowed to interact with the bot players. Stone, who is also the founder and director of the Learning Agents Research Group at the University of Texas at Austin in the US, noted that achievements in robot football have advanced a range of areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning. This includes human-robot interaction, computer vision and multi-agent systems, among others.

These developments are shared in RoboCup ندوة Seminarthe publishing arm of the organization that has so far produced hundreds of scientific papers detailing machine learning breakthroughs that have emerged from competitions.

RoboCup is always a huge challenge for AI and robotics and a training ground for the next generation

—Peter Stone, CEO of Sony AI America and former President of RoboCup

Soccer has also recently been used to develop artificial intelligence by researchers who have successfully created digital soccer players who learned the game as they faced each other in a computer simulation. The project was published in August in robotics sciencea peer-reviewed scientific journal – uses human motion data and other machine learning systems to enable players to perform and improve soccer skills.

“We addressed the integration of motor control and long-range decision-making in the context of human football simulation, which requires agile motor control and multi-agency coordination,” the research team wrote. “Our work is a complete showcase of the integrated decision-making process acquired at multiple levels in a multi-agent environment.”


Experts note that advances in robotic football have significant implications for other forms of artificial intelligence and automation such as self-driving cars And the care robots.

“In many countries, we have populations that don’t have enough young people to care for the elderly. Robots will be the way this care can be provided to keep people active and in their homes for longer,” said Kay Firth Butterfield, Head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at the Economic Forum Globally, autonomous vehicles will provide mobility for older generations. Important real world applications It could start with creating a soccer bot where speed tests, machine vision and machine learning are vital to playing the game.”

For example, RoboCup has expanded its efforts to include new competitive leagues featuring independent service bots. This includes the RoboCup@Home league, which is focused on developing personal and local robotic service capabilities. The organization also hosts a RoboCup Rescue league where teams compete to develop advanced robotic tools for emergency responders. The last winner of this tournament was a research team from Kyoto University in Japan Search and rescue robot Show new ingenuity.

The intricacies inherent in football continue to make the RoboCup Football Tournament a leading source of inspiration and challenge for bots and AI researchers.

“Will football go the way of chess, checker, poker, jobardi, starcraft, gran turismo, and other human endeavors hitherto conquered by artificial intelligence? Or will the demands of real-world perception and human-like speed and agility keep it out of reach?” asked Stone. “This question remains a source of debate and uncertainty within the community.”

However, the RoboCup organizers maintain an ambitious goal: by the middle of the twenty-first century, a team of fully autonomous robot soccer players will face and win the World Cup.

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