ASML's robot football team – the Falcons – is heading to Japan for RoboCup 2017, the annual World Cup of Robot football that aims to promote robotics and AI research with the ultimate goal of beating the human champions by 2050.

Originally founded in 2013, ASML's Falcons team first started playing football in the global tournament two years ago in China. At that point, it was still a challenge for our robots just to kick and receive the ball. But the machines participating in this month's international RoboCup tournament are now are able to do one of the prettiest yet toughest shots – to shoot over the goalkeeper or defenders (lob shot). "Overall, our passing and shooting accuracy has increased by more than 50%, and collision avoidance rate has also increased by 70%," says Jaap Vos, the captain of Falcons. Their goal this year? To raise the Falcons ranking to sixth place, from the eighth place achieved last year, out of 9 world-class teams, most of whom have played for more than 10 years. "It's not only about getting a certain score. You have to face off against strongest teams to develop yourself – if you lose, that's not a good feeling; but if you try your best, and you make a huge development, then at least you win – for your personal growth," adds Jaap.

Taking Falcons as a playground to explore and practice new technology that doesn't touch their routine job, many ASML adventurers walk out of their comfort zone and grow up quickly. For example, the lob shot function was programmed within three weeks by an Electro Mechanical Engineer Raf van Son, whose daily work is designing hardware for the EUV scanner and source. For our robots to play better in the tournament, all the team members have been working from 6pm to 11pm two days per week in the past month to develop and test various technologies.
"All the improvements we see today are the result of everyone's commitment. There's no better feeling than seeing that every trick you thought of works, and the whole team benefits. Your efforts are immediately visible – that's the fun of playing RoboCup," notes Jaap. "If we come sixth, then we'll definitely show the world: the Falcons are coming."

For more information, please contact Jaap Vos.