2050: the year that it will happen


Even before you step into the Intelligent Robotics Lab of LAB42, you're greeted by 8 pairs of eyes — not the employees of the lab, but the welcoming committee of LAB42 in the form of various robots. Upon entering the lab, you immediately encounter a soccer field, confirming you're in the right place. Walking further, you arrive at the destination: Wike Duivenvoorden, Bachelor's student in Artificial Intelligence and coordinator of promotion & events for the Dutch Nao Team.

The welcoming committee

Meet the Dutch Nao team

With a team of 36 Bachelor and Master students Artificial Intelligence and Informatics from the University of Amsterdam, the Dutch Nao Team programs robots to play football by themselves. With these robots, the team competes in competitions around the whole world. By programming them in advance, the students let them see with their cameras, hear with their microphones and communicate with their wifi capabilities to remove the need for a human controller.

The students in this team are usually the honors and cum laude students who want an extra challenge. They work on this project one evening a week and one day at the weekend.

Of course there is no football without a little competition, therefore the team competes in the yearly RoboCup SPL (Standard Platform League) and regional competitions throughout Europe. The robots are put to the test by playing matches against teams from all over the world.

From dark corner to shining centerpiece

Since the opening of LAB42, the Dutch Nao Team has found a beautiful new home. Whereas the students were previously somewhat tucked away in a cramped space without daylight, the team now occupies a highly prominent and visible spot in LAB42: next to the entrance with a meters-long glass wall, visible from afar. The practice field has also doubled in size. 

Wike: 'We're absolutely thrilled with this beautiful location. Not only because it's great to work in this bright space, but also because we have much more traffic. It's common for people to take photos of our space from outside, and groups often stop by for an introduction to the Nao robots. It's great for us to showcase our work. Additionally, we've noticed it's easier to recruit new students to the team now that we're in such a prominent location.'

'It's easier to recruit new students to the team now that we're in such a prominent location.'

Playing against humans

Within the team, there is hard work being done to achieve the ambition of 2050: playing against a human team in football and, of course, winning. Fortunately, there are still a few years to go to achieve this ambitious goal. And the students don't have to do this alone; the Nao team is part of the Intelligent Robotics Lab, under the leadership of founder Arnoud Visser. This passionate robotics lecturer supports the team wholeheartedly.

Arnoud Visser, founder of the Intelligent Robotics Lab

Additionally, neighboring StartUp Village and LAB42 resident Zeta Alpha contribute to the team's success through sponsorship. So, when the robots compete against the human football team in 2050, there will undoubtedly be cheering from multiple places. It's a beautiful example of co-creation between education, research and entrepreneurship within LAB42. 

But first of all, let's aim to win the World Cup this July in Eindhoven!

Learn more about the Dutch Nao Team