According to Claude Sammut, a computer science professor in Australia, robot soccer players will one day (he thinks by 2050) defeat the best soccer players in the world. As an example of the possibility, he referenced a bet that John McCarthy and Donald Michie made a with then Scottish chess champion, David Levy that a computer could one day beat the best human player in the world at chess. Which did eventually happen.
With that in mind, Sammut is involved in a project called robocup, where robots have been programmed to learn how to play soccer. Here is what he had to say in regards to a team of robots one day defeating the world’s best humans:
“RoboCup aims, by the year 2050, to develop a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots that can win against the human world soccer champion team.
“To achieve this, or come even close, the robots will have to be able to sense and act in completely unstructured environments. This will require major advances in perception, decision making, learning, and co-operative behaviours.
“Not forgetting that robots are integrated hardware and software systems, significant advances will also be needed in sensors, actuators, energy storage, and materials.”
Well, there you have it. But is 40 years enough time? The bet referenced above stated that the computer would beat the chess player within 10 years, but it took closer to thirty. This is obviously a much tougher task, as it involves a moving robot that not only needs to be able to trap, pass and shoot a ball, it would have to adjust to and compete with 21 other moving players. But science is moving quickly and only time will tell.