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RoboCup (The World Cup Robot Soccer) is an attempt to promote AI and robotics research by providing a common task, Soccer, for evaluation of various theories, algorithms, and agent architectures [, , ]. Defining a standard problem in which various approaches can be compared and progress can be measured provides fertile grounds for engineering research. Computer chess has been a symbolic example of the standard challenge problems. A salient feature of computer chess is that progress can be measured via actual games against human players.

For an agent (a physical robot or a synthetic agent) to play soccer reasonably well, a wide range of technologies need to be integrated and a number of technical breakthroughs must be made. The range of technologies spans both AI and robotics research, such as design principles of autonomous agents, multi-agent collaboration, strategy acquisition, real-time reasoning and planning, intelligent robotics, sensor-fusion, and so forth. RoboCup consists of three competition tracks:

Real Robot League:
Using physical robots to play soccer games.
Software Agent League:
Using software or synthetic agents to play soccer games on an official soccer server over the network.
Expert Skill Competition:
Competition of robots which have special skills, but are not able to play a game.

RoboCup offers a software platform that forms the basis of the software or synthetic agent league. The goal is to enable a wider range of research in synthetic (or ``virtual reality'') environments, that are today proving to be critical in training, entertainment, and education[]. The software agent league also promotes research on network-based multi-agent interactions, computer graphics, and physically realistic animation -- a set of technologies which potentially promotes advanced use of internet.

Peter Stone
Tue Sep 23 10:34:44 EDT 1997