• Open to the general public, this event will show the prowess of robots to perform rescue in a car accident, or to assist a person.
  • But it is obviously around the football competition, during which teams of robots compete, that the eyes will be mainly focused.
  • Four-time world champion, Rhoban, the LaBRI Bordeaux team, will try to recover in Japan its title lost last year.

The cream of international robotics will meet in Bordeaux at the beginning of July. It is at the Parc des Expositions that will take place, from July 4 to 10, the 26th edition of the Robocup, the largest robotics and artificial intelligence competition in the world, which brings together 45 countries, 2,500 competitors and 3,000 robots, announced Monday the organizing committee of Robocup 23, at Cap Sciences. Bordeaux was supposed to host the 2021 edition, but it was postponed due to Covid-19.

Open to the general public, this event will show the prowess of robots to perform rescue in a car accident, or to assist a person in reconstructed apartments. But it is obviously around the football competition, during which teams of robots compete, that the eyes will be mainly focused. Especially since Rhoban, the LaBRI (Bordeaux Computer Science Research Laboratory) team, has been four times world champion in the Humanoid Kid-Size category, since 1997 that it participates in this competition. And that she has a revenge to take on Japan, who beat her in the final last year.

"We don't get much sleep during the seven days of the competition"

"Last year, the Japanese literally pointed a camera at us for seven days, until the final," recalls Clément Gaspard, a PhD student in artificial intelligence at LaBRI and a member of the Rhoban team. That's how they realized that when their robot went left, ours was shooting right, so they made sure to also place a robot on the right to intercept the ball. In short, they adapted to our game, whereas we tried to make robots that work in all circumstances, without adapting to a particular team. But maybe this year we will observe the others more. »

Presentation of the #Robocup2023 this Monday at Cap Sciences. #Bordeaux hosts from 4 to 10 July the largest international competition in #robotique pic.twitter.com/xtE1UaUyRW

— 20minutesbordeaux (@20minutesbord) March 13, 2023

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Even if there is nothing to gain in this competition that brings together the community of scientists, and which serves above all to advance research, Clément Gaspard recognizes that as the tournament progresses, the desire to win quickly takes over, and makes you lose your mind a little. "When the competition comes, we push the robots to their limits, and we don't sleep much during the seven days of the Robocup." Computer bugs to fix, broken engines or faulty mechanics... "We spend a lot of time unscrewing, screwing, repairing... That's why we leave with enough to make three robots in our suitcases. »

"The goal is that in 2050, a team of robots will face a human team"

The matches are played four against four, in two times ten minutes. "The rules are very similar to those of the football World Cup, the goal being that in 2050, a team of robots faces a human team," says Clément Gaspard. That's why we're riding on adult robots. We only have one, 1.70 meters, at the moment, and it walks like an 80-year-old, but the United States is releasing adult robots that run, so we'll see what they will present this year. »

The idea, however, is to evolve gradually. "We are already hoping to present a team of one-metre-high robots next year, when the Rhoban robots are 70 cm tall." Beyond size, robots have evolved a lot since their beginnings at Robocup. "We added artificial intelligence to them, which allowed us to teach them how to find the shortest way to shoot the bullet."

"If they can play football, they can do a lot of other things"

But why, finally, make robots play football? "It's a bit of a carrot for researchers," says Gaspard, "and these robots, if they can play football, can do many other things, such as personal assistance." "The artificial intelligence community has long focused on the emblems of intelligence, I am thinking in particular of chess or the game of Go, the idea with the Robocup created twenty-five years ago was to go into the field of motor intelligence, which must react to the uncertainties of the environment, adds Olivier Ly, from the University of Bordeaux, and member of the organizing committee. And we work with several robots that cooperate, based on their own understanding of the game. »

But Robocup is not just football, far from it. "Other leagues have appeared over the years," recalls Olivier Ly, "such as Rescue, which reproduces a disaster site on which robots must go to help people in difficulty. There is the industrial league, of course, because the industry remains the largest consumer of robots. And there is the @Home part, the goal being to design a butler who helps with the chores of the house. The challenges of the domestic robot are the interaction with the user by not being dangerous, knowing that to be useful a robot must be powerful, and if it is powerful it is dangerous, so there is a difficult equation to solve. »

The Bordeaux organizing committee wishes to focus during this twenty-sixth edition on agricultural robotics. "We do it in Bordeaux, and for us it's a central theme," insists Olivier Ly. Our projects consist of implementing semi-autonomous robots to weed inside a row, for large-scale organic crops. Robotics is therefore opposed to chemistry, with great precision. It is a contribution to the evolution of agrarian practices from an ecological point of view. »

Robocup 2023, from 4 to 10 July at the Parc des Expositions in Bordeaux. Tickets on the website 2023.robocup.org

  • Tech
  • Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Bordeaux
  • Gironde
  • Aquitaine
  • New Aquitaine