THE WORLD MAY not agree 100 percent on what to call it, but we can all agree that soccer/football is indeed the Beautiful Game. Not just from an individual athleticism standpoint, but also the teamwork: Soccer is a lovely ballet, only with more kicking and tripping and hooliganism.
Which makes the robots of the RoboCup all the more impressive. They look a bit like mini Daleks, but they’re way more chill and way better at soccer. Individually, they sense their world and scoot around and snag the ball and kick it, which is grand. But collectively, they form a team that’s teaching roboticists to build—dare I say it —synergistic machines that cooperate to form something bigger than the sum of their individual teammates. And that’s essential if humanity is going to create a robotic society that doesn’t descend into chaos.