At the Robocup 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey, two Virginia Tech robots took first prizes, ending a streak of domination by European and Asian teams in the robot soccer tournament and bringing the Cup to U.S. soil for the first time.
Virginia Tech's RoMeLa team won in both the adult-size and kid-size categories, plus took home the coveted Best Humanoid Award, the most prestigious accolade for a humanoid robot.
The team's full-size humanoid CHARLI-2 prevailed over Robo Erectus of Singapore 1-0 in the adult-size robot soccer match on a penalty kick. (CHARLI-2 lacks a web page, but his predecessor, CHARLI, has one.)
RoMeLa's DARwin OP robot, built in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, got top honors in the Humanoid Kid Size competition. The kid robot was particularly skilled at the throw-in competition, in which the robot has to pick up a soccer ball and throw it back onto the pitch.
Since 1997, the Robot World Cup has encouraged scientists who work on various areas of robotics -- sensing the environment, motion tracking, artificial intelligence, wireless communication and precision movement control -- to collaborate. The aim of the Robot World Cup is for a team to eventually design robots that can play soccer against humans by 2050.
While these games may not have the speed of human soccer matches, they're at least funnier to watch and refreshing for their lack of drama, histrionics, acting and spats with the referees. The robots, especially in the kid-sized video, are adorable -- almost the way real children are.
Here is the video of the KidSize Final, which pitted the U.S. against Japan:
This video shows CHARLI-2 prevailing over the Netherlands' Team Dutch Robotics: