The old maxim is that "practice makes perfect." When it comes to robot soccer, practice may not have made perfect yet, but it has definitely contributed to huge progress in the right direction. Last August, during a break in the ROBO-ONE Special competition, some of the competitors had their first taste of playing a robot soccer match. It was a lot of fun, and everyone was totally turned on by the possibilities. Still, a lot of the play was pretty primitive - kind of like elementary school age kids trying to play for the first time.
Six months later, at least three formal competitions, plus who knows how many informal pick-up games, and endless hours of practice, and the robot soccer teams performance has improved dramatically, as you can see from the video clip below.
Just a week ago, Monday - February 12th to be exact, we had the opportunity to share in the fun and excitement of the 3rd KondoCup Robot Soccer Competition held at the Kondo Robo Spot facility in Akihabara. Teams included a wide range of experience, ranging from some of the top ROBO-ONE players to others that were closer to the novice level.
The competitions consist of two classifications, the "Kondo Class" which includes teams with robots that are primarily stock KHR-series, and the "Open Class" which includes other robots like the MANOI AT01 and full custom designs that use Kondo servos and controllers. There were 3 teams entered in the "Kondo Class" matches and 8 in the "Open Class."
The matches started right on schedule with the first kick-off at 1:00 pm and continued almost without a pause until after 6:00 pm that evening. The pressure was really intense - friendly, fun filled, but definitely intense.
Shiroma (center) and his team setup their MANOI AT01 soccer players for their first Open Class match.
One of the big surprises was the amount of team play and strategy. Several of the teams must have studied playbooks because they were passing the ball back and forth as they moved down field, and even setup shots on goal. The play is getting closer and closer to emulating actual soccer games.
Here are some highlights from the early matches. We'll be posting additional video clips from the rest of the matches soon.
Of course it's obvious that having the Robo Spot facility available under the guidance of very capable management like Naoko Hikima has made a major contribution to advancing the sport here so quickly.