We are the Champions!

If you were excited watching the World Cup soccer match earlier today, later this month in Brazil, there will be another  important soccer match played involving teams of humanoid robots at the RoboCup 2014.  The Robocup, involves teams of humanoid robots from around the world.  While there is currently a very limited national development system for these robot athletes, another decade or two will likely change that, in anticipation for the match in July 2050.  At least that is the goal of the RoboCup.  While earlier today, Germany took on Argentina to determine the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion, this match will likely have much more significance, or at least that’s the goal.   The year 2050 is the current date for the reigning World Cup champion to take on a team of robot athletes to determine the best Soccer (futbol)  team in the world.  WIll it be Germany againt to double up as both human and humanoid champs? 


While looking at many of today’s robots, diminutive in size and slow to the touch, many experts has suggested in  the early 2000’s , they thought it would take another decade for a robot to be functionally bipedal.  It took about 4 years for that to actually happen.  Today you can buy the NAO robot, and see your own Evolution of Dance.  I love the Mr. Roboto segment, or is that too ironic.  Some experts like Daniel Lee who heads the up University of Pennsylvania Robotics labs, estimates twenty years.  

I’m a little more skeptical.  While we still have another decade or so until the microchip stops following Moore’s law and the size of the copper itself becomes the limitation for wire size.  There needs to be an awful lot of software developers actually coding to allow robots to make sense of the world.  Taking data is one function, making sense of that data is entirely different.  Though companies like Asus plan on launching service robots in 2015, they will be very limited and expensive at first.  Much like PC’s in the early 80’s, this cost will come down fairly rapidly, though I’m still hung up on the 2025 date.  Perhaps quantum computing will take hold or graphene will have an unexpected benefit that allows Moore’s law to continue a few more years.  THough a second phase of turning microchips into even more if a commodity than they are now could take hold.  The cost for a multi core platform could start to go down and parallel processing will yield some benefits for a while, but there is only so long that can happen, before the law of physics take hold.


Photo Credit:  Wikimedia Commons

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