While the rest of the world is watching the soccer world championships in Korea and Japan this summer, at the same time the Robocup 2002 competition for soccer-playing robots is to take place there – the sixth time the tournament has been held, with 35 countries competing and this time including a “humanoid league” competition. The purpose is to foster research in robotics, with the aim of building a team of robots that can play and win against the best human teams by 2050. One of the pre-tournament favourites this year is Iran, who did well in 2000 but not in 2001.

The Swedish team includes a star player named Priscilla, described as “looking like a sister of the Terminator”. One of the Swedish designers comments: ‘you don’t want to give too much freedom to the robots as they will go crazy.’ Much like flesh-and-blood highly-paid sports stars really