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Team UChile Again In Robotic Soccer World Cup

FCFM’s Team UChile will represent our country again at the 20th edition of RoboCup, the international annual robotic soccer championship, which will be held this year in Leipzig, Germany, from June 30th to July 3rd.

nao-preparandoseUChile (formed by students Pablo Cano, Pablo Saavedra, Kenzo Lobos, Gabriel Azócar, Nicolás Cruz and team leader Miguel Yáñez), which belongs to the Department of Electrical Engineering and the Advanced Mining Technology Center, will travel along their seven NAO robots, built by French company Aldebaran Robotics, to compete in the standard platform league, where every team plays with exactly the same robots, since its focus is in the software and programming used for the automatons to play. This is different from other RoboCup leagues where the contestants must build their own robots and the competition considers both programming quality and mechanical body design.

This year, the NAOs must meet a new demand from the RoboCup organizers: a new ball. In previous years robots had to play with an orange hockey ball; this year the ball is bigger and designed like a classic soccer ball, with black pentagons and white hexagons, which poses an additional challenge for the automatons, who now must visually recognize a patterned two-color ball instead of a uniform sphere.

nao-programandoBut UChile’s seven mechanical players will travel better prepared than their previous competition in 2015. Their software was upgraded with fine-tuning in teamwork decisions, improvements in acting, an automatic color calibration system for the robots’ vision (before that cameras in every automaton had to be worked on individually), a more complex localization system (the awareness each robot has of its own position in the field and body posture) which will make the robots less likely to “get lost” if, for instance, a person changes its position after a fall, and a more robust algorithm for obstacles local map generation, which will allow the robots to dribble better.

Along with the soccer matches, RoboCup also offers an academic symposium in which papers, studies and breakthroughs in several fields of Robotics are presented. Last year one of the works shown by the University of Chile, “Interactive learning of continuous actions from corrective advices communicated by humans”, written by PhD student Carlos Celemín & AMTC Director Javier Ruiz del Solar, was awarded as “Best Science Paper”. This year our university will present two papers: “Robust Tracking of Multiple Soccer Robots using Random Finite Sets”, by Pablo Cano & Javier Ruiz-del-Solar, and “Decentralized Reinforcement Learning Applied to Mobile Robots”, by David L. Leottau, Aashish Vatsyayan, Javier Ruiz del Solar and Robert Babuska. The symposium will take place after the games, on July 4th.

UChile has competed continually in RoboCup since 2003, always in the standard platform league, and it has had relevant accomplishments, like getting the overall 4th place in João Pessoa (Brazil) 2014 and in Hefei (China) 2015.

RoboCup is an international championship created in 1997, which aims to foster the development of Robotics using soccer as a tool. Is in this context where progresses and tests are made in the fields of image recognition, tracking, localization, decision-making based on environmental information, collaborative work and motor mechanics, among others. For the 2016 edition some 40,000 attendees are expected to see 500 teams from more than 40 countries play, making a total of approximately 3,500 contestants.

Footage sent to the RoboCup organization to qualify for the 2016 tournament:

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