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Robosoccer Teacher

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Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - The Purpose of this Reading

Students might think that Robosoccer or Robot Soccer is something made up for the purposes of this STEM Lab. This page should explain that it is a real sport for programmers, engineers, and spectators alike.

robot playing soccer
Robots playing soccer on a field

Robot Soccer

Engineers have built and programmed robots to play soccer for over two decades. Several organizations, such as the RoboCup Federation and FIRA, host tournaments where teams from around the world compete with soccer playing robots. What are some reasons that robot soccer is so popular?

Two of the main reasons that robot soccer is so popular are:

  1. Entertainment – Soccer, or football, is one of the most popular sports in the world. Many people enjoy watching and playing the sport. Substituting the human players for intelligent, responsive machines adds a fresh spin on the game.

  2. Research & Development – Robot soccer is an activity that requires multiple robots working together to accomplish tasks (scoring goals and defending their goal), while reacting to another team of robots doing the same. Robot soccer is an incredibly creative and authentic setting for developing algorithms that allow robots to quickly track the trajectory of an object, take control and manipulate that object, and communicate their position and other information to their teammates. All of these algorithms can be reused by robots in other environments to accomplish similar tasks.

Motivate Discussion icon Motivate Discussion - Moving a Soccer Ball

Q: Why do you think people (engineers and programmers) develop soccer-playing robots?
A: The reading highlighted the fact that soccer-playing robots are entertaining and also challenge us to explore new applications of robotic programming and networking that can then be applied elsewhere. On a personal level, it is important for students to recognize that the developers of soccer-playing robots do it because it's a fun and creative application of technologies. Moreover, creative applications of technologies - even to something as arguably trivial as soccer playing - can lead to innovations in the technological field.

Q: The robot in the picture above is an android robot. That is, it has legs and feet similar to a human's legs and feet that it uses to kick the ball. Does it need legs and feet to move the soccer ball? How else might it do it?
A: No, the robot doesn't necessarily need legs and feet to move the ball. The robot might use attachments or extensions like hockey sticks to push/pull the ball, launchers to move the ball longer distances, or some other device that could also move the ball down the field.

Extend Your Learning icon Extend Your Learning

To relate this activity to Social Studies, discuss what people in most countries call soccer and why. Identify the origins of soccer, and ask the students if they feel sports unify or divide a nation's citizens.

To connect this activity to English, ask students to research and write a paragraph about famous soccer players around the world, such as Megan Rapinoe, Mia Hamm, Marta, Lev Yashin, Cafu, and Pele.