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Autobots vs. human World Cup champs by 2050?

The RoboCup Federation, a nonprofit organization based in Japan, envisions autonomous humanoid bots that are advanced enough to pit themselves against humans.

soccer robots
Mechanical bots prep for a soccer match. Will autobots like these be playing against humans in the future? Damian Koh/CNET Asia

The line has been drawn and the goal set.

The RoboCup Federation, a nonprofit organization based in Japan, aims to develop autonomous humanoid robots that are advanced enough to pit themselves against human World Cup champions by 2050.

While we're probably still some way off from the military drones in "Iron Man 2," the organizers of the yearly RoboCup competition, which will take place in Singapore between June 21 and 24, hope the event will fuel interest among students of robotics and artificial intelligence.

At the press conference Thursday morning, we learned from Jonathan Kua that the committee aims to develop more robotics solutions for the medical, logistics, and transportation industries. Kua is a member of the steering committee for RoboCup 2010 and director of new businesses at the Singapore Economic Development Board.

Tan Hang Cheong, co-chair of the steering committee for RoboCup 2010, and principal of Singapore Polytechnic, added that "a couple of millions" have been invested to put together this competition. The organizers expect about 4,000 people and more than 500 teams from more than 40 countries to participate in the event happening in Southeast Asia for the first time.

The competition comprises activity-type categories, with the soccer tournament being the main draw, as well as bots developed for rescue missions and assisted-living at home. There is also a junior segment where primary and secondary students will get to challenge their robots in soccer, rescue, and dance.

We don't have to worry, though, that autonomous robots will soon take over the human race or drones blowing up bridges and cars. "Folding clothes is [still] one of the most difficult tasks for robots," Kua said.

soccer robots
Students from Singapore's Woodlands Ring Secondary School demonstrate robotic soccer. Damian Koh/CNET Asia

(Source: Crave Asia)