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Media opportunity: Dalhousie University team becomes first Canadian squad to win 2021 world championship in largest AI soccer competition

Posted by Communications and Marketing on June 29, 2021 in News

A team of researchers from the Institute for Big Data Analytics at Dalhousie University took the top spot at the RoboCup 2021 world championship, becoming the first Canadian squad to win gold at the largest international AI soccer simulation competition.

Dal’s Team CYRUS was led to victory against reigning world champions -- Japan-based HELIOS2021 -- by research assistant Nadar Zare and PhD student Mahtab Sarvmaili, both in the Faculty of Computer Science. They used a variety of AI and machine learning models to train autonomous ‘players’ in different positions to collaborate and play together in an intelligent way, often mimicking the behaviour of the world’s best soccer teams and players.

RoboCup uses soccer simulation to promote robotics and AI research, with the findings used to advance many real-world issues. By 2050, the competition aims to train a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots to win a soccer game against the winner of the most recent World Cup.

“This is an incredible achievement for Team CYRUS and for Dalhousie,” says Dr. Stan Matwin, Canada Research Chair and director of the Institute for Big Data Analytics. “It demonstrates that Nova Scotia is really starting to lead the way in areas of AI and machine learning research.”

While these methods are presenting new ways to play and consume sports particularly at a time when in-person activity has largely been suspended, the team is using its research to help humans improve their soccer techniques through a collaboration with Halifax Wanderers and Dal Varsity. This emerging project will help the teams better understand their players and team dynamics through data analysis using some of the AI methods developed for RoboCup.

The final RoboCUP 2021 round can be viewed on the competition’s Youtube channel.

Mahtab Sarvmaili is available to discuss the team’s winning project and the range of applications it can have, such as computer games, autonomous robots, training sports teams, the police or military, or when dealing with a natural opponent, like a fire or in a search and rescue operation.


Media contact:
Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491



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