Without a doubt, the most eye-catching and entertaining aspect of the RoboCup competitions so far as been the sight of a whole field of AIBO robot dogs playing soccer for all they are worth. Unfortunately for AIBO fans, robot fans in general, and the RoboCup organization specifically, Sony canceled AIBO production which means that sooner or later a comparable robot replacement will have to take the field.
Of course, no robot could ever completely replace the cute AIBO design in our hearts. Nevertheless, the RoboCup Federation has taken the initiative to issue a 'Call for Tenders: A Standard Robot Platform for Robot Soccer' to all robot manufacturers worldwide, actively looking for a way to continue and extend the standardized robotic platform aspects of the RoboCup competitions.
The new Call for Tender, which was brought to our attention by Howard Gordon - the CEO and founder of Surveyor Robotics, spells out the basic requirements for the robotic platform. The primary intent is that all the teams use a common hardware platform. This is intended to encourage them to focus on the software and strategy in order to win. In fact, if possible the resulting regulations will preclude any hardware modifications to the robots whatsoever.
The tender includes a long 'wish-list' including requirements that the robot have an operating system and software development system, that it be designed in a modular and upgradeable fashion, have multiple degrees of freedom, feature directed perception, onboard color vision, be capable of fully autonomous operation, and many other 'wishes' that may or may not turn out to be practical.
While AIBO was a quadruped, the new robot platform doesn't have to be four legged. This opens the door for a standard humanoid platform - something a lot of us would really like to see happen. Howard and the folks at Surveyor have well developed sensor and processing expertise and are actively looking for partners with humanoid robot mechanical expertise.to work with to tackle this project
A copy of the tender document in pdf format is included below.