Scholar Achievements
Abdullah Zaini puts his Artificial Intelligence Research by Building Soccer Playing Robots

CPISP scholar Abdullah Zaini a dual degree student in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Pennsylvania – USA - put his Artificial Intelligence research to the test by building soccer playing robots for this year’s US-Open Robocup competition. Competing with his research lab at the University of Pennsylvania, Abdullah combined computer science with psychology to make his robots “think like real soccer players” and was ultimately successful as his teams finished in 2nd place and 3rd place at this year’s university and overall competitions. 

Robocup is an international robotics soccer competition that aims to promote robotics and AI research by offering a publicly appealing yet difficult challenge to competitors. The official goal of the project is to have a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players beat the winners of the most recent world cup in a FIFA regulated game by the year 2050. Each year a rule change is introduced to try to push teams closer towards achieving that goal.

One of only two undergraduates in the GRASP lab at U-Penn, Abdullah contributed towards the behavior and decision making aspects of the robots and hopes to one day make robots that can learn the way that humans do. “GRASP stands for General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception and the focus of the lab is to make robots and other machines perform tasks better than humans can. This is a unique technical challenge. Something simple to a human like tracking a moving ball becomes an issue for a robot when the white ball stops on a white line and has a white goalpost in its vicinity too”

He participated this summer at the international competition in Nagoya, Japan and with over 400 teams in this year’s event Abdullah sees it as more of a learning opportunity than a competition. 

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