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Soccer Server - Artificial Intelligence (AI) for soccer playing mobile robots
Keywords: simulation league, RoboCup, artificial intelligence
(Commenced: 01-Jan-2005,Concluded: 01-Jan-2007)
Every year since 1997, researchers from different countries have gathered to compete in the world championships of robotic soccer. The event has drawn a substantial amount of interest from both industry as well as the general public. The latest RoboCup world championship tournament took place in July 2004 in Lisbon (Portugal) with a total attendance of 224 teams from 34 countries competing for the titles in more than 5 different disciplines. One of these disciplines is the RoboCup Soccer Simulation League also known as "Soccer Server" League.
Soccer Server is an educational tool for research on multi-agent systems and artificial intelligence (AI). It allows two teams of 11 simulated players (autonomous agents) to play soccer against each other. Matches are carried out on a virtual pitch: The so-called "soccer server" is a system that simulates the environment, i. e. the pitch itself, the wind conditions, the location and the velocity of the ball, reactions to the players commands, etc. Each individual player is a client program written in C, C++, Java, etc. Communication between server and clients is built upon the socket based protocol UDP/IP. A match can be visualized using special monitor programs.
Soccer Server simulates movements of a ball and players, communicates with clients, and controls a game according to rules. To control a player, the corresponding client program needs to send requests to the server regarding the actions it wants to perform (e.g. kick the ball, turn, run, etc.). The server receives those messages, handles the requests, and updates the environment accordingly. In addition, the server provides all players with sensory information (e.g. visual data regarding the position of the ball, goals, and other players). It is important to mention that the server is a real-time system working with discrete time intervals (or cycles). Each cycle has a specified duration, and actions that need to be executed in a given cycle, must arrive to the server during the right interval. Therefore, slow performance that results in missing acting opportunities has a major impact on the performance of the team.
The reigning world champion of the RoboCup Simulation League (2004) is the team STEP of the ElectroPult Plant in Russia. Second and third place went to the University of Dortmund (Germany) and Allameh Helli High School (Iran), respectively. Previous winners included the State Key Laboratory of Intelligent Technology and Systems at TsingHua University in China (2001, 2002), the University of Porto (2000), Carnegie Mellon University (1998, 1999) and Humboldt University (1997).