R2-D2, who? Nowadays it seems robots can almost do anything -- from driving a car to bartending to understanding human emotion. But can they take a corner kick?

Apparently so. Each year, teams of computer scientists from the around the world come together for RoboCup, an annual soccer tournament that highlights robotics research around the world. In this year’s RoboCup Tournament finale in Istanbul, Turkey, students from Penn's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception lab partnered up with a team of Virginia Tech students to use their DARwIn (“Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence,”) robot to beat Japan and bring home a soccer victory to America (for once).

The full-size humanoid robot, CHARLI-2, won the adult-size robot soccer match with a penalty kick.

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CHARLI-2 also won the popular Best Humanoid Award, considered to be the Oscar for humanoid robots. (Tiger Woods came in second.) The trophy was in Japan for seven years before going to Germany for two. Now the U.S.-based Team CHARLI has captured the honor.

The Americans also built DARWIn-OP, which won first place in the Humanoid Kid Size competition. Penn developed the “software framework that provided each robot with artificial intelligence (AI) which guided the robots' walk, vision, and gameplay.”

The project hopes to create a team of fully-autonomous robots that can play soccer against humans by 2050. But for now, the physical skill at RoboCup still has much to be desired. The robots move somewhat awkwardly and deliberately, stopping often to scan the field for the ball. Or maybe they’re just looking for Posh Spice.

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