A Quick Course in RoboSoccer

Every football match is played according to a set of rules and pursues a single aim: getting the ball into the opponent’s goal. As frequently as possible. Or at least one more time than the opponent gets it into yours. Which is harder than it sounds! After all, regardless of whether it’s robots or human beings facing off on the field, the fact remains that “in football, everything is complicated by the presence of the other team” (Jean-Paul Sartre). So what are, actually, the salient facts of RoboSoccer? Below: the key questions answered by the well-informed Christian Eder.

When and where was the very first official RoboSoccer match played?

The first match took place in 1996 at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, South Korea.

How large is he playing field?

The size of the playing field depends on the league. The smallest fields measure 1.3 x 0.9 meters (Narosot); the largest are 4 x 2.8 meters (Mirosot Large). The details about the respective classes of play are available under “Leagues.”

How long does a match last?

The duration of the match also depends on team strength: either two 5-minute periods (during the qualifying rounds) or two 7½-minute periods (from the semi-finals on). Times are net (i.e. the clock stops during breaks in play).

How many players are on the field?

The number of players also depends on the respective league: In Mirosot, it’s 5 against 5 in Middle and Extended Middle, and 11 against 11 in Large. In the Narosot league, it’s also 5 against 5. And just like in real football, each robot has its own position and role.

How does the teamwork function?

Each individual Robokicker receives a radio transmission containing information about the positions of the other players and of the ball. On that basis, they select a particular strategy and adapt it depending on the course of play.

Is there a referee? And do the same rules apply in RoboSoccer as they do in real football?

Yes, there are one to three human refs, and yes, they also penalize fouls.

So what does RoboSoccer actually depend on – or, in other worlds, what sets a top team apart from an underdog?

On one hand, it’s the quality of the hardware: how well-built are the robots, how fast can they move, how accurately do their sensors scan their surroundings, etc. etc. On the other hand, it depends, of course, on the software, which means tactical capabilities: how quickly and efficiently can the players react to the course of play.