Robot soccer competition provides an excellent opportunity for integrated robotics research. All these tasks demand robots that are autonomous (sensing, thinking, and acting as independent creatures), efficient (functioning under time and resource constraints), cooperative (collaborating with each other to accomplish tasks that are beyond an individual's capabilities), and intelligent (reasoning and planning actions and perhaps learning from experience). Furthermore, all these capabilities must be integrated into a single and complete system, which raises a set of challenges that are new to individual research disciplines. At RoboCup-97, held as part of the Fifteenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, these integrated robots performed well, and our DREAMTEAM won the world championship in the middle-size robot league.
The YODA Robot Project at the University of Southern California/Information Sciences Institute consists of a group of young researchers who share a passion for autonomous systems that can bootstrap its knowledge from real environments by exploration, experimentation, learning, and discovery. Our participation in the Fifth Annual AAAI Mobile Robot Competition and Exhibition, held as part of the Thirteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, served as the first milestone in advancing us toward this goal. YODA's software architecture is a hierarchy of abstraction layers, ranging from a set of behaviors at the bottom layer to a dynamic, mission-oriented planner at the top. This abstraction architecture has proven robust in dynamic and noisy environments, as shown by YODA's performance at the robot competition.