There are probably as many different ways to view robotics as there are people on this planet. Say, for example, you were considering how robots might play athletic games in the future, like soccer. You might approach the problem from an academic perspective and try to create the ultimate vision systems, object recognition, and artificial intelligence algorithms so that your robot soccer player emulated a human player to the n'th degree - though most of the human soccer players we've known haven't exhibited a lot of intelligence, artificial or otherwise.
On the other hand, if you were a robot hobbyist with a little ROBO-ONE experience, you might brush all the dry, time consuming theoretical research and AI aside, and just set out to have as much fun with your friends playing robot soccer as humanly possible. That's exactly what we witnessed on Sunday afternoon at the AKIBA Robot Festival where the center attraction was the KondoCup Robot Soccer competitions.
Just for the sake of clarity, the robot soccer players that participate in this type of R/C controlled competition really respect the AI researchers, and are quite interested and supportive of their work. It's not unusual to find people here in Japan that participate on both sides of the fence. For example, Maeda-san, the creator of OmniZero.2, had a great time playing ROBO-ONE Rumble Ball soccer at the ROBO-ONE 10 competition in September, and is also a key member of Team Osaka, the RoboCup champions.
Sunday's competition, the KondoCup Robot Soccer matches, was divided into two classifications - Kondo robots, which included the KHR-1 and KHR-2HV robots, and an 'Open Class' where the only requirement was that the robot had to use Kondo components like servos and/or controllers.
The competitions lasted all afternoon and drew standing room only crowds. Some spectators stood in the same spot for hours just so they wouldn't miss any of the excitement. Here are some of the best moments from the Open Class matches:
We'll be posting video from the Kondo Class matches, along with more insight into the actual play and some of the reasons why the players have improved their skill so much over the past six months or so.