High-school team wins dancing robot competition

Published 22 August 2007

Israeli students shine at international robotics dancing competition; RobCup, the Japanese organization behind the competiton, aims to foster artificial intelligence and robotics research

If I were a rich man / Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum”: Gabriel Yisraelov, Itzik Yalizerov, and Alex Chaimov, three yeshiva students from from the Or Avner Yeshiva High School in Israel, won the prestigious competition organized by Osaka, Japan-basedRobocup — the Robot World Cup Initiative Dancing Challenge — which was held in Atlanta, Georgia last month. The three young students beat fifty teams from twenty-three other countries with their creations Mommy, Mafrat, and Brownie the dog. The Jerusalem Post’s Ahinoam Pollack writes that the 11th RoboCup tournament, held at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, consisted of two challenges. In one, each country’s team competed against all the others. In the second, three teams had to work together to program a new dance for all their robots.

Teamed with Japanese and American students, the Israelis proposed a wedding. Dan, the American robot would marry Mafrat — to Mommy’s disapproval. Brownie would come to the lovebirds’ rescue, barking at Mommy. The Japanese robot would join in the dancing when the couple finally got married.

RoboCup is an international research and education initiative, and the first official games were held in Nagoya, Japan in 1993. Since then the annual games were hosted by different countries around the world, including France (1998), Australia (2000), and Germany (2006). Dancing and soccer-playing robots are fun, but the deeper purpose of the organization is to foster artificial intelligence and robotics research by providing a standard problem for the solution of which a wide range of technologies can be examined and integrated.