Soccer robots again world champion and defend title at home next year

July 9, 2023

Tech United sets a good example for the Orange Lionesses in Bordeaux, France.

TU Eindhoven student team Tech United today clinched the robot soccer world title at the RoboCup, the world championship for autonomous robots. For the soccer robots, it is the fourth time in a row that they have won the World Cup, and the seventh world title since their existence. "A wonderful result! Moreover, it is an honor that we will appear at next year's World Cup in our own country as defending champions," said Jette Bruurs of Tech United. With their service robot HERO, the team had to settle for fourth place this time.

In Bordeaux Tech United won 6-2 over the Falcons in the final. The teams were evenly matched, especially in the first half. The robots gave little away on either side and played strong defensively. After a 2-0 halftime score, more chances arose in the second half and Tech United was able to increase the score with strong attacks to a convincing victory.

With the title win, Tech United sets a good example for the Orange Lionesses, who will play the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand later this month. With good reason do the soccer robots listen to names like Lieke Motors and Jackie Groenestroom. "Hopefully they take inspiration from our victory," Bruurs says with a wink.

Photo: Tech United

Agility and acceleration

The win is partly the result of the development the soccer robots went through this year. They are more agile than before because of a new platform called the swerve drive. This consists of three steerable wheels. This allows the robots to rotate even better. Because the drive uses two motors per wheel (one to set the wheel in the right direction and one for the final drive), the robot soccer players can also accelerate up to 3 times faster than before, with speeds of up to 7 meters per second.

The RoboCup is the World Cup for self-driving robots, robots not controlled by humans. The table-high robots play 5-on-5 with a real soccer ball, in two 15-minute halves, on an 18 x 12 meter field. They are programmed in advance, but once the whistle blows, they play soccer completely independently and humans are mere spectators.

Indeed, the underlying goal of the RoboCup is to encourage the development of reliable and affordable self-steering (autonomous) robots that benefit society. As a point on the horizon, RoboCup therefore set the goal that by 2050 soccer robots should be so advanced that they can beat the human world soccer champion.

HERO is being prepared for the upcoming challenges. Photo: Tech United

Household tasks

Service robot HERO won fourth place in the @Home competition, the category of help-in-home robots. In it, robots are developed that, among other things, can help older people live independently at home for longer. HERO was already able last year to pick up drinks and give them to a human, but has now been developed to the point where it can also open a door and place objects in hard-to-reach places, such as on a shelf and between other objects.

HERO impressed with a win in the "Restaurant Challenge", in which the robot must navigate through a restaurant environment, avoiding obstacles and interacting with people. But in a strong field of competitors that included teams from South Korea and Japan, the team eventually had to settle for fourth place after three days of various challenges. 

RoboCup to Eindhoven

The win in robot soccer is a nice boost for Tech United as the RoboCup is coming to Eindhoven next year (July 17-21, 2024). Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to flock to the Indoor-Sportcentrum in Eindhoven. It is the second time Eindhoven is hosting; the World Cup was also in the Netherlands in 2013. Back then, Queen Maxima was one of the spectators.

Barry van der Meer
(Head of Department)

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