Computer Science Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


The First Segway Soccer Experience:
Towards Peer-to-Peer Human-Robot Teams

Brenna Argall, Yang Gu, Brett Browning, Manuela Veloso

July 2005

Keywords: Segway soccer, human-robot teams

Robotic soccer is an adversarial multi-agent research domain, in which issues of perception, multi-agent coordination and team strategy are explored. We define particularly a game involving heterogeneous teams of humans and robots. Here teammates must coordinate not as master and slave, but as equal participants. One of our contributions is to research this peer-to-peer question within the domain of Segway soccer, where teams of humans riding Segway HTs and robotic Segway RMPs coordinate together in competition against other human-robot teams. Beyond the task of physically enabling these robots to play soccer, a key issue in the development of such a heterogeneous team is determining the balance between the human and robot player.

The first ever Segway soccer competition occurred at the 2005 RoboCup US Open, where demonstrations were held between Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the Neurosciences Institute (NSI). Through the execution of these soccer demonstrations, many of the challenges associated with maintaining equality within a peer-to-peer game were revealed. This paper chronicles our experience within the Segway soccer demonstrations at the 2005 US Open, and imparts our interpretation and analysis regarding what is needed to better attain this goal of teammate equality within the peer-to-peer research domain.

We begin with an explanation of the motivations behind the Segway soccer and peer-to-peer research, providing details of the game rules and flow. We then describe our approach to the building of a heterogeneous Segway soccer team, in which we developed a robot-dominated soccer strategy. Robot decision making was autonomous, and the human player reacted to the robot's chosen actions. Our analysis of the experience at the US Open is presented, giving regard to both research challenges as well as difficulties in the physical execution of a Segway soccer game. We evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of our robot-driven approach within the context of game performance, as well as in contrast to the human-driven approach of our opponent team from NSI. While each team displayed either a strong bias towards the human or the robot, the intent of these peer-to-peer games is in fact to explore teamwork where the teammates are equal. Based upon our observations from the actual demonstrations, and interpretation of the research goals of the league, we offer a revised set of game rules. We conclude with thoughts on the direction of future research within the Segway soccer domain.

27 pages

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