WowWee Rovio taught to play soccer

With the weather picking up, there's nothing like stepping outside and kicking a ball around with some friends.  Or so I hear; I'm too busy inside glued to my laptop.  But a team of Rovio robots over at NYU decided to have a kickabout, their student trainers coming up with software that allows the WowWee 'bots to recognize a bright yellow tennis ball and shovel it toward the red goal.

The Rovios aren't actually controlling themselves, but being remotely directed from nearby laptops over their WiFi links.  The software uses an image processing library to recognize the goal posts and plot the best course to get the ball through them; similar to human soccer, only with fewer sex scandals, advertising deals or falling to the floor, rolling about and screaming about how your ankle is broken.

There are plenty of videos over at the project page, and the funnier ones are, inevitably, those in which the robots screw up and crash into each other.  I don't think David Beckham need worry himself unduly about an electronic takeover.

[Thanks Robert!]