Robotic Soccer is probably the coolest sport on campus

Why would we play sports when we can build robots that play sports instead?

Robots . . . playing soccer? - Photo credit / Robo Hub

By: Marco Ovies, Staff Writer

I don’t know anything about robots, and I definitely don’t know anything about soccer, so, naturally, I am the best person to tell you about SFU’s Robotic Soccer Club. The club is a year old and members are already building a whole team of soccer playing robots to enter in the 2021 RoboCup International competition. This is the perfect club for someone who is not so athletically inclined but still wants to experience the thrill of being a part of a soccer team. 

The club was founded by Arvin Amini, a fourth year majoring in Biomedical Engineering. Arvin is super passionate about the sport. 

“I’m originally from Iran and robotics competition in high-school and university level is taken seriously,” he said. “RoboCup as an international competition is one of the most important competitions in Iran. I was surprised that at SFU, and in Canada in general, such programs are not taken as seriously! Knowing the great impacts of such robotic teams and competitions, I decided to start the SFU Robot Soccer Club with the help of my friends.” 

The team has managed to finish their first prototype and are currently forming a fully functioning team of robots. But the most interesting part of building these robots is actually training them to play soccer. Just like a team of people, these robots will need time to practice, train, and learn the sport in order to get ready to compete. With all this work, the club has split into three different sections: the electronics group, the mechanics group, and the software group. Each one of these plays a vital part in creating these sophisticated pieces of machinery. 

The club has also played a large role in the community to help children develop a love for the sciences. In April and June 2019, SFU Robotic Soccer held a camp for kids from grades 5–7 where participants had to design a mechanism to kick a ball and lift a marshmallow as high as possible.

“Robots are cool, and arguably soccer is the most interesting sport for the majority of people,” said Amini. “Why not combine them and enjoy a game of soccer looking at our robots play against each other?” 

If this sounds like your kind of sport, feel free to sign up through the SFSS portal or by sending an email to sfurs@sfu.ca. SFU Robotic Soccer is open to students from all programs who have a passion for robots, artificial intelligence, and teamwork. 

Even if you’re not interested in joining, be sure to keep an eye out for the team at the 2021 RobotCup International.