RoboCup chose to use soccer as a central topic of research, aiming at innovations to be applied for socially significant problems and industries. The ultimate goal of the RoboCup project is by 2050, develop a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots that can win against the human world champion team in soccer.
In order for a robot team to actually perform a soccer game, various technologies must be incorporated including: design principles of autonomous agents, multi-agent collaboration, strategy acquisition, real-time reasoning, robotics, and sensor-fusion. RoboCup is a task for a team of multiple fast-moving robots in a dynamic environment. RoboCup also offers a simulation platform for research on the software aspects of RoboCup.
One major application of RoboCup technologies is search and rescue in large scale disaster situations. RoboCup initiated RoboCupRescue project to specifically promote research in socially significant issues. RoboCupRescue includes real robot and simulation leagues.
In the Rescue Robot league, robots explore a specially constructed disaster site about the size of a small house. The disaster site includes mannequins with various signs of life, such as waving hands, shouting noises and heat, hidden amongst stairs, platforms and building rubble. The robots, some under human control, must find and approach the victims, identify their signs of life and produce a map of the site showing where the victims are located. The aim is to provide human rescuers with enough information to safely perform a rescue. Each team is scored based on the quality of its maps, the accuracy of the victim information and the number of victims found.
The Virtual Robots competition expands the disaster site to a city block-sized disaster area. To explore such a large area, teams of cooperative robots must now be deployed. These robots will face similar challenges and scoring metrics to those in the physical league. In addition, the simulated environment allows for additional hazards and challenges that would not be possible in a physical competition environment.