In 1997, an IBM computer named Deep Blue beat the world chess champion at his own game. In 2011, Watson, another IBM creation, won Jeopardy! Computers may have an edge in these brainy pursuits, but what about sports? Robots are getting quite good at soccer, too–and advances made by scientist building machines able to kick around a soccer ball have, in many ways, become a barometer of the state of robotics. At the University of British Columbia, the UBC Thunderbots, as they’re called, are bringing their autonomous, soccer-playing robots to RoboCup 2012, in Mexico City, to compete with teams around the world from June 18 to 24. Launched in 1997 and held every year, RoboCup’s stated goal is to field a team of humanoid robots to beat the FIFA World Cup champions by the year 2050—proving that computers aren’t just brains, they can be jocks, too. Watch!
Video shot and produced by Hassan Arshad: