UPennalizers Compete in RoboCup US World Open

May 4, 2009

The UPennalizers, Penn's Robocup team, competed this year in the US Open Invitational, held at Bowdoin College in Maine. The UPennalizers robocupcompeted in the Robocup Standard Platform league, using the Nao humanoid robots, and were one of 4 US teams in the competition.

After having beaten CMU during the seeding rounds, the UPennalizers faced the host team, Bowdoin, in the semi-finals. The Penn team dominated play in the first half, with its attackers controlling the ball but missed their mark several times resulting in a close 0-0 game at halftime.  However, in the second half, Penn's star attacker, Leonard, took over the game as he positioned the ball outside the Bowdoin penalty box and kicked it in to the disappointment of the home crowd.

The Penn then had to face the strong Texas team in the championship match.  Until that point, Texas had dominated the competition, without allowing a single goal against in all their matches.  However, this quickly changed in the first half, when as the Texas players suffered from balance problems, Leonard once again dribbled down the length of the field and knocked in the first goal.

After the halftime changeover with Penn leading 1-0, play began with both teams trading control of the ball.  Unfortunately, Leonard also suffers from a robotic medical condition known as "usbitis," which results in the head computer unable to talk to the body motor controllers, and a sudden relapse of this condition occurred late in the game.  As Leonard collapsed and was carted off the field to receive medical attention, the Texas attackers took advantage of their numbers advantage to score the equalizer with less than a minute remaining.

According to official Robocup rules, with the game tied 1-1, the  result would be decided according to a penalty shootout.  The skills  development of the Penn goalie, Sheldon, had been severely neglected during the competition, but he was quickly pressed into service to face the powerful Texas penalty kicks.  Although Sheldon could only hop, and not properly position himself in the goal,  he managed to save some of the kicks.  By this time, Leonard had recovered from his usbitis, and  managed to score 2 of his first 4 attempts.

Thus, gong into the fifth and final penalty kick, the score  remained tied 3-3. Texas went first, and knocked a powerful kick into the corner of the  net. Unfortunately, Leonard's final valiant attempt against the Texas goalie rolled just a few inches short of the goal line.

Please join us in congratulating Penn students Anne Schneider, Roman Shor, Jordan Brindza, and Barry Scharfman, and the robots team. To see additional coverage or to watch videos of the matches, click here.