I am robot — battling it out in Brazil

With seconds remaining in the match, spectators sat on the edges of their seats. Would the goalie’s knees hold up for a final save? Was there time for one last shot?

RoboCup 2014 was as intense as the World Cup. In the middle of the action stood Sunny and Forrest, robots designed for the international competition by Marquette’s Team MU-L8. Though the team finished fifth among the six teams in its division, that didn’t lessen the excitement.

Five days of competing in João Pessoa, Brazil, left Dr. Andrew Williams, Grad ’95, and the six students who traveled to the games mentally and physically exhausted. Team members who were unable to attend stayed connected through blogs and tweets.

Williams, the Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J., Chair and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was proud of his team’s composure. When a competing team needed a component for its robot, Marquette students loaned them an extra so competition could continue. “I was truly amazed at our students’ unselfish character,” Williams wrote in his blog.

RoboCup 2014 served as a platform to join a worldwide conversation about humanoid robotics. The students competed against robot designers from universities and corporations. The global recognition is a huge step for Marquette and Williams, who returned to his alma mater fewer than two years ago as a faculty member. He established the Opus College of Engineering’s Humanoid Engineering and Intelligent Robotics Lab to teach students to build and program robots for competition and, more important, make widely available autonomous, assistive humanoid robots to teach health and education to children. • WM

Professor Williams is excited about the prospects for the HEIR lab and hopes Marquette is ready to compete at RoboCup 2015 in China. By next summer, he expects the newest version of MU-L8 to be available for purchase by universities and schools that want to get in on the action.

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