Toward Integrated Soccer Robots
Robot soccer competition provides an excellent opportunity for integrated robotics research. In particular, robot players in a soccer game must recognize and track objects in real time, navigate in a dynamic field, collaborate with teammates, and strike the ball in the correct direction. All these tasks demand robots that are autonomous (sensing, thinking, and acting as independent creatures), efficient (functioning under time and resource constraints), cooperative (collaborating with each other to accomplish tasks that are beyond an individual's capabilities), and intelligent (reasoning and planning actions and perhaps learning from experience). Furthermore, all these capabilities must be integrated into a single and complete system, which raises a set of challenges that are new to individual research disciplines. This article describes our experience (problems and solutions) in these aspects. Our robots share the same general architecture and basic hardware, but they have integrated abilities to play different roles (goalkeeper, defender, or forward) and use different strategies in their behavior. Our philosophy in building these robots is to use the least sophistication to make them as robust and integrated as possible. At RoboCup-97, held as part of the Fifteenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, these integrated robots performed well, and our DREAMTEAM won the world championship in the middle-size robot league.
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