A group of 4th year engineering students have decided to play football for their final year project – with a difference. Their coaching tactics involve computer programming and a tool-box, and their players won’t be found sipping champagne in the local night-club on a Saturday night. In fact, their players don’t need to drink at all – they’re robots.
“Robot football has taken off enormously in Korea and other eastern countries, although it is still in its early days in the UK,” explains Caroline Browne, team secretary and Manufacturing and Management student. The only other competitor in the UK is Plymouth University, who the Warwick Evolution Robot Football Team will compete against in December.
Five other cross-discipline Warwick students join Caroline on the team: Ben Lakin (Electrical Engineering), Antony Corbett (Manufacturing and Management), Jon Oliver (Computer Systems), Andy Duncombe (Mechanical Engineering), and Tim Harding (Mechanical Engineering).
The game consists of two 3-robot teams competing on a table-size football pitch. Each game lasts approximately 20 minutes, including 10-minutes half time, using robots no bigger than 8cm cubed. Like “normal” football, the aim of the game is to intercept the ball (an orange golf-ball) and score goals (into a 30cm-wide goal).
The wireless robots are controlled by a link from a camera positioned above the pitch to a host computer telling the robots what to do. Team colours are either blue or yellow, and the only human involvement is from the referee. The winning team is those who have managed to programme their robots and host computer software the most effectively.
Robot Football is now recognised as a fourth-year cross-disciplinary group project at Warwick, utilising a multitude of skills and approaches developed by engineering students. Further information may be found on their website http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/eng/wrf/