Quadruped Robot Hones Soccer Shooting Skills

The research shows how innovators are working to make robots increasingly agile

Scarlett Evans

August 24, 2022

2 Min Read
Credit: UC Berkeley

A group of researchers has developed a novel system to improve movement and precision in quadruped robots, demonstrated in the robot’s ability to shoot soccer balls. 

The researchers; from the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), Université de Montréal and Mila, used the quadruped robot A1, developed by UnitreeRobotics in its tests. To enable soccer-shooting skills, the robotic system had to incorporate motion control and motion planning, granting the robot the capability to understand its surroundings and the trajectory needed to score a point.

Such a system is challenging as the robot not only has to determine how to kick the ball to achieve a goal, but also has to physically swing its leg without losing balance. The target of a deformable soccer ball also proves challenging, given its unpredictable interaction with the terrain. 

The team used a reinforcement model to train the robot, with the robot receiving a reward each time it successfully completed a desired action. Ground frictions were randomized to train the robot to maintain control and accuracy in a variety of terrains and circumstances. 

Using its newly developed system, the team found that when applied to a quadruped robot, precise results were seen almost every time, with the robot capable of shooting a deformable soccer ball to random targets with high precision. 

Moving forward, the team said it will develop more nuanced and complex soccer skills, with the hope of one day making a fleet of autonomous robots capable of engaging in a whole soccer match without human intervention. 

The team also said the system could be deployed in robots used in activities that involve deformable items, such as clothes and ropes – for instance robots used in search and rescue missions. 

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