SEPTEMBER 20, 2006


Teams of robotic dogs engage in public soccer match at RSU

Dr. Vadym Kyrylov, RSU professor, handles one of his robotic soccer-playing dogs. Dr. Kyrylov is a professor in RSU's new game development program and the adviser of the university's new RSU Unleashed robotic soccer team.

Teams of robotic dogs recently engaged in a live soccer match at Rogers State University, as part of a demonstration of the “RSUnleashed” – the only four-legged robotic soccer team in Oklahoma.

Two free demonstrations of the soccer-playing robotic dogs were conducted on an indoor soccer field in Herrington Hall – home of the university’s School of Business and Technology. Coordinating the soccer matches was Dr. Vadym Kyrylov, an internationally recognized researcher and expert in the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence and simulation and gaming, who joined the RSU faculty this summer. Dr. Kyrylov has led academic teams that participated in international competitions in simulated soccer. This fall, he will introduce a new educational project with the robotic soccer-playing dogs at RSU.

Six Sony AIBO robotic dogs participated in the live soccer demonstration. The robotic canines are completely autonomous, meaning that they are not guided by human-operated remote controls. Instead, each dog has internal computing power comparable to a typical personal computer. A memory stick in the dog’s abdomen contains a custom-developed computer program that guides its behavior, serving as a “brain.”

Each robotic dog comes equipped with a full complement of sensory devices, providing it with senses of vision, hearing and touch. Each dog is outfitted with a video camera behind its nose that allows the dog to “see,” two microphones in its ears that receive sound, and infrared sensors in its chin and chest that “feel” warm objects in the dog’s vicinity. The sensory devices send messages to a central processor located within the dog’s body, which in turn, sends messages to 17 motors that control its movement. The motors are located in the dog’s head, neck and legs, and two motors control the wagging of its tail.

Spectators at the demonstrations were able to view the soccer match from the dogs’ perspective on a video screen adjacent to the soccer field. Dr. Kyrylov explained how the dogs are able to “make decisions” and achieve movement on their own.

In addition, Kyrylov introduced attendees to RoboCup, a research and educational initiative designed to facilitate and promote advances in robotics and artificial intelligence. The goal of the RoboCup competition is to develop a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots that can win a match of soccer against a championship team of humans by 2050.

Both the simulated and robotic soccer versions of “RSUnleashed” will provide engaging and instructive learning material for the university’s new bachelor’s degree in game development, which is available beginning this fall at RSU. The program is offered by the Department of Applied Technology, which is part of the RSU School of Business and Technology. The new game development program will capitalize on the popularity of computer video games, respond to the rapidly changing job market for information technology professionals and contribute to the Oklahoma economy through an emerging industry – the development of animated video, autonomous robots, and business simulation games.

As creators of the “RSUnleashed” team, students will write their own computer programs using the Java and C++ languages. The programs will be loaded onto the robotic dog’s “brain,” or memory stick, to control its behavior on the soccer field. Students will receive credit for participating on the team by taking special topics courses in computer simulation, robotics and artificial intelligence at RSU, beginning this spring.

In the summer of 2007, Kyrylov and his students will introduce “RSUnleashed” to the RoboCup competition and make a research presentation at the accompanying research symposium in Atlanta, Ga. Last year, the annual event attracted more than 1,500 students and faculty members comprising 350 teams from 40 countries.

Kyrylov hopes to attract at up to 24 qualified students for the robotic soccer project. Students must attain special academic standing to enroll in the special topics course and participate on the team.

At each Robocup competition teams of simulated or physical robots created by students may participate in several leagues including soccer and disaster rescue operations. In recent years, teams from Georgia Tech, Cornell and Carnegie Mellon universities have placed highly in the competition. In the mean time, Kyrylov is conducting research toward improving the capabilities of the robotic soccer players’ behavior by inventing new methods that can also improve computer games.

A native of Ukraine who holds Canadian citizenship, Kyrylov has extensive research experience in a variety of fields, including simulation and gaming, robotics, artificial intelligence, and software engineering. While on active military duty in the former Soviet Union, he taught in a graduate military college and conducted research in defense systems engineering. Kyrylov retired from the Soviet Army in the rank of Colonel. Before coming to RSU, he served on the faculty of Simon Fraser University in Surrey, British Columbia. Previously, he was the recipient of a Fulbright research scholarship from the U.S. Information Agency and a grant from NATO to develop a major academic computer network in Russia. He also was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Illinois and Iowa State University. He received a doctor of engineering sciences degree from the Higher Academic Qualifications Commission in Moscow and completed his education at the Air Defense Graduate Radio Engineering College in Kharkov, Ukraine. He has also earned a master’s degree in mathematics from Kharkov State University.

For more information on the robotic soccer dog demonstration, the new “RSUnleashed” soccer team and the bachelor’s degree in game development, call the RSU School of Business and Technology at 918.343.7663.