Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 12:55 UK

Robot team makes football finals

Robot football team
The three robots have a human support team of five

A team from a Devon university has managed what no British home nation has managed this summer - competing in a European football tournament's finals.

The University of Plymouth team is taking part in Euroby 2008, the robot football equivalent of Euro 2008, also being held in Austria and Switzerland.

The university side consists of three humanoid robots, each one operating independently with an onboard computer.

Teams from Germany, Croatia, Austria, Russia and Asia will also be competing.

The University of Plymouth side has about 10 years' experience in the field of robot football and was UK champion in 2007.

These robots do as well as we teach them, so there is no excuse in this case - we can't blame the player
Dr Guido Bugmann, team coach

Providing technical support for the robots, which are about 1ft (30cm) high and play with a tennis ball, are five students and staff.

The "British" side consists of French, Greek and Swiss academics and one Englishman: PhD student Peter Gibbons.

He said: "I feel very privileged to be flying the flag for England at the championships.

"We're similar to the England team in that we're seeing this as a transition phase and we're hoping to get some experience before the World Cup in two years."

Robot goalkeeper
The university team has been studying the tactics of human footballers

The robots have been in training for a number of weeks but their human trainers are the key to their success, according to team coach Dr Guido Bugmann.

He said: "I'm really nervous. But these robots do as well as we teach them, so there is no excuse in this case - we can't blame the player."

The team has tried to plan for every eventuality, even penalties.

Dr Bugmann, a reader in intelligent systems at the university, said: "We have to try to find good examples.

"We've been looking at Beckham but that didn't work, and we've been looking at John Terry but we had a problem. So, we have been looking abroad really.

"We've looked at some German players. We heard they were quite good at penalties."

The finals take place in Linz in Austria between 19 and 22 June.


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