Carnegie Mellon RoboCup Soccer Team Wins World Championship

PITTSBURGH—A small, wheeled robot designed and built at Carnegie Mellon University powered the school's robot soccer team, CMDragons'06, to victory Sunday in the small robot league at the RoboCup 2006 World Championship in Bremen, Germany.

The team's five robots, cube-shaped machines with 7-inch sides, outscored opponents by a combined 53-3 margin in the six games played at the international competition. The small robot league is one of six leagues that compete in the games.

Team advisor Manuela Veloso said the superior speed of the new robots built by research engineer Michael Licitra gave the CMDragons a big advantage over other teams.

"These great robots, combined with accurate path and control software algorithms for attacking and defending by graduate students James Bruce and Stefan Zickler, produced an exceptional robot team," said Veloso, the Herbert A. Simon Professor of Computer Science.

Carnegie Mellon won the small robot league championship in 1997 and 1998, and its teams have always been competitive. It has been the long-term goal of Bruce, the team leader, to once again bring home the championship, Veloso noted.

"Jim has been determined to win this league since 2001," she said. "The combination of Jim's determination and Mike's amazing engineering capabilities created a unique and remarkable team this year."

Carnegie Mellon also demonstrated two small humanoid robots, named Ami and Sango, which provided commentary during some of the RoboCup matches last week. The bipedal robots were developed by Sony Corp., but were programmed by Veloso and her students to make comments on the movement of the soccer ball, explain fouls and rules, and announce goals. They also entertained the crowds by dancing at halftimes. The commentator robot team, CMCast, included computer science graduate students Sonia Chernova, Colin McMillen, Douglas Vail and Elisabeth Crawford, and Robotics Institute graduate students Nick Armstrong-Crews and Maayan Roth.

A third team, CMAssist'06, participated in a new RoboCup event called RoboCup@Home, in which robots work with people to perform household chores. The team came in second in the exhibition. Systems scientist Paul Rybski headed the team, which included Robotics Institute graduate students Jeremy Stolarz and Kevin Yoon and computer science undergraduate Alex Grubb.

RoboCup is an international project to promote artificial intelligence, robotics and related fields through robot soccer competitions, with the ultimate goal of developing humanoid robots capable of defeating the human world champions by 2050. Veloso is vice president of the RoboCup Federation. Next year's world championship is in Atlanta.

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