Robots kick off World Cup

June 12, 1998

ADVANCED robotics and artificial intelligence will meet the challenges of international soccer with Cybermondial, the World Cup of Robot Footballers in Paris later this month.

Some 60 teams of computer-controlled robots from about 15 countries - including Britain, Australia, Brazil and Japan - are expected to take part in the competition, organised by the University of Paris VI (Pierre et Marie Curie), CNRS, the national centre for scientific research, and the Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie museum.

The footballers combine advanced robotics, electronics, control, active vision and artificial and collective intelligence. As in a real match, their aim is to score goals and stop the opposition doing the same.

Each player has to perceive the constantly-changing positions of the ball, opponents and team-mates and decide the next move as part of a collective strategy.

The contest is open to four categories of robot of various sizes between 4.5 and 50 centimetres resembling little tanks on wheels, and a further category of quadruped robots, which as well as their four "feet" have a tail and a nose.

The teams of three or five react to commands from a computer which analyses data transmitted from cameras placed either above the pitch or inside the players. There is no human control over the robot footballers - unless one commits a gross foul, in which case a whistle from the human referee halts the game.

Cybermondial will take place at the Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie, 30 avenue Corentin-Cariou, 75019 Paris (Metro Porte de la Villette), from June 30 to July 8 1998, open daily except Monday from 10am to 6pm (7pm on Sunday); entrance to the Cite 50 francs (35 francs reduced tariff), 35 francs on Saturday. Information from 0033+(0);

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