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Dalhousie University's AI Robotics team wins gold in RoboCup

Dalhousie University's AI Robotics team wins gold in RoboCup

Dalhousie University's AI robotics team, Cyrus, has become the first Canadian team to win gold in an international RoboCup competition.

Team Cyrus, led by research assistant Nadar Zare and PhD student Mahtab Sarvameli, both in the Faculty of Computer Science, were able to use AI and machine learning to create autonomous robotic soccer players in various positions for a two-dimensional competition.

Nader Zare and Mahtab Sarvameli.
According to SarvMeli, the RoboCup competition is divided into two leagues: the Hardware League and the Software League.

"Software League is like a simulation of these robotic competitions," she said. "For example, we have rescue leagues that are like these firefighters, agents. Or we have football leagues in which we are competing."

According to Sarvmeli, the main focus of software leagues is to train and design the behavior of the agent or in this case the football player.

Team Cyrus focused on designing their robots to imitate football greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“When we started, it was like classic machine learning algorithms. But today, we are migrating to deep learning methods… A typical example is deep learning and reinforcement learning to train the behavior of a goalkeeper. , and has deep learning to predict opponent's behavior in the field," Sarvameli said.

The robotics team also uses a search algorithm to predict the best action in the field.

Cervameli said the two-dimensional simulation of football is more focused on decision-making and producing autonomous players.

Cyrus defeated Japan's HELIOS2021 to win the two-dimensional soccer simulation final.
To further their research, Team Cyrus joined forces with football team Halifax Wanderers and Dalhousie University Varsity to improve their soccer techniques, especially at times when individual activities are limited.

According to Sarvameli, Team Cyrus serves as assistant coach to the Halifax Wanderers, helping them develop new potential football plays and work on their offensive and defensive play. Team Cyrus creates a simulation for the football team.

"For example, if they are playing against a soccer team from Alberta, what would be the best strategy? Or how [they] can field players for the highest performance against their opponent?" he said.

By 2050, RoboCup aims to create a full team of autonomous robots with body structures similar to human players, playing against that year's FIFA champions.

Seeing the future of robotics in the team-based sports industry, Cervameli said he thinks robots could play a supporting role in sports such as hockey or basketball, in the same way that Team Cyrus supports the Halifax Wanderers.

In addition, she sees opportunities for Team Cyrus' research in the field of video games.

"What comes to my mind is video games. It would be really interesting to apply our models to video games. For example, FIFA uses a centralized controller that controls all the agents in the game, but this game is fully automated.. it will be more challenging and more interesting for gamers,” she said.

In the end, she said the robot could be used more generally in other areas. For example, robotic technology can be used to control traffic.

"We can create a very well organized system that doesn't require any human being involved to control the traffic," she said.

She also believes that the healthcare industry can benefit from some robotic technology and that robots can play a major role in cleaning up the environment.

This win for Team Cyrus helps elevate Canada's place in the robotics industry.

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