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Missing The World Cup? There’s Still The RoboCup, The World Cup for Robots

It’s been nearly a month since Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder in a stadium in Brazil (or, in Suarez’s words “suffered the physical result of a bite in the collusion he suffered with me”). But this week, just a little more than a hundred miles south of where that game took place, one Iranian soccer-playing robot in the RoboCup—the World Cup for robots—malfunctioned, falling on top of one of its Indonesian opponents and ripping off its arm.

Fouls work a little differently at the RoboCup, which for the past 17 years has invited teams of roboticists from all over the globe to pit their soccer-playing machines against one another. This year, the competition is taking place in a Brazilian conference center with a manmade pond and a building shaped like a space-age beard trimmer, where 2,200 human participants (and thousands more spectators) will finish competing for RoboCup titles today.

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