We're getting closer to appreciating Japan's infatuation with the concept of autonomous, humanoid robots. How close? This July, you can experience the progress at the 11th annual RoboCup soccer event at the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta.
The ultimate goal of this international competition is to develop a team of fully autonomous, humanoid robots that can defeat the human world champion team in soccer by the year 2050.
RoboCup 2007 will include approximately 218 senior robotic teams and 140 junior teams from more than 20 countries. These international teams will participate in soccer games and search-and-rescue missions, testing the limits in artificial intelligence and robotics research. The annual event, with sponsors including Microsoft, Lockheed Martin and CITIZEN, involves about 1,500 students and faculty from leading universities, as well as 500 middle school and high school students.
This year's RoboCup event also will feature the debut of the Nanogram League, a competition between microscopic robots. A magnified broadcast of the microscopic competition will be shown on large screens throughout the event.
Meanwhile, for a better understanding of the Japanese infatuation with robotics, consider Timothy N. Hornyak's Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots, (Kodansha International, 2006).