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Tiny robots gear up for soccer competition

Miniscule robots based on watch motors are in training for this year's RoboCup tournament.

    Japan's Citizen Watch, one of the largest watchmakers in the world, Monday announced a tiny robot it hopes will one day be a soccer champion.

    The Eco-Be, which measures less than one square inch, features a motor unit adapted from tiny watch motors. With a lithium battery, small LED and microprocessor on board, the robot can move forward and backward, as well as turn around.

    It can be remotely controlled via a built-in infrared module. Each robot unit has a unique address, allowing multiple robots to be controlled independently and play simultaneously.

    Credit: Citizen Watch
    Citizen's Eco-Be robot may
    compete in the robot world's
    World Cup of soccer.

    Citizen is working with the University of Osaka's engineering department, along with robot development specialists from Robot Laboratory and Viston.

    The organizers of

    The University of Osaka is a leading institution in artificial intelligence-enhanced robot development. Minoru Asada, a professor of its engineering school, is one of the founders of RoboCup, which he initiated almost 10 years ago with Sony researcher Hiroaki Kitano. Asada currently works as president of the RoboCup international committee.

    Hayashi Sakawa of CNET Japan reported from Tokyo. CNET's Jennifer Guevin contributed from San Francisco.