Gibbons Student James Little ’19: Teaching Soccer-playing Robots How to Dribble

northernbites

When he was a high school senior, James Little ’19 applied to Bowdoin because he aspired to join its champion Robocup team, Northern Bites. The team, which is advised by Professor of Computer Science Eric Chown, is made up of students interested in computer science and robotics. They collaborate to program small athletic robots to play soccer and to compete against other college robotics teams around the world.

This summer, Little has a Gibbons grant to improve the robots’ kicking strategy and to pogram them to dribble down the field. At the moment, the robots can just do one big kick that sends the ball so far that the robot typically loses track of it. Plus, the robots would be more competitive players if they could administer kicks of varying force to the balls. However, this is easier said than done, because the robots must also be smart enough to understand when is the best time to employ a gentle nudge or really send the ball flying.

Little said he’s drawn to the field of robotics because “artificial intelligence…is a challenge no one has solved.”

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