AFP Photo: Japan's computer giant Fujitsu unveils the new humanoid robot HOAP-3 playing soccer.

"Robots from 31 countries went head to metallic head Wednesday in football and other competitions with a goal of triumphing against human soccer champions -- after 50 years or so of practice. Researchers in ties and people in uniforms matching their machines stood alongside the robots which vied for titles in the weeklong RoboCup 2005 being held in the western Japanese city of Osaka," reports AFP.

"By 2050, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official FIFA rules, against the winner of the most recent World Cup of Human Soccer," a statement by organizers said."

A longer and better report in Asahi Shimbun points out that "The 'beautiful game' is just one of the events in a week-long international robot competition. More than 330 teams of automatons from 31 countries will be trying to outdo and outfox one another in soccer matches, search-and-rescue exercises and even dance at the RoboCup 2005 Osaka."

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