Robot lionesses and care robots both world champion on RoboCup

July 7, 2019

Dutch soccer robots and care robot HERO both world champion


During the annual robot world championships the team of the TU Eindhoven won two world championships. The robot soccer team won in the final against China, and the care robot from Eindhoven also received the most points in its category. The RoboCup, this year in Sydney, is the annual international tournament for autonomous (self-directing) robots).

After a nerve-wracking soccer final between the Chinese team Water and Tech United from the TU Eindhoven, the last emerged as victor. Only in the last minute Tech United equaled the score. The game remained exciting during during overtime. Tech United did gain an advantage at 5-4, but created more distance with 6-4 only just before the end signal. Team Water was strong in the offence and the defense of Tech United was tested repeatedly.

Also in the care robot category, with a firm distance to the second place, Tech United conquered the world cup. It is for the first time the Eindhoven team takes home two world cups.


The soccer robots of Tech United (blue/cyan) and the Chinese team Water (pink/magenta) during the round robin. Photo: Tech United.

Robots named after our orange lionesses

Due to a returning injury of star player Lieke Motors, who had to leave the field repeatedly for repairs, Chinese opportunities could be cashed in. Much praise goes to keeper Sari Verenstaal, who stopped the ball on several occasions. The newest arrival on the team, Lineth Rekenbrein, could get some successful playtime as an substitute attacker. Defence player Jackie Groenestroom and attacker Vivianne Wielema could find each other on crucial moments and Dominique Bluetooth could score because of some deep passes. Wielema was the new trump card: she possesses a new platform with not three but eight weels. That makes her almost as fast as Usain Bolt at the 100 meters.

Special strategy per opponent

During the soccer game students and researchers from the TU Eindhoven have no contact with their robots: they play completely autonomous. Team captain Wouter Kuijpers: “The team has trained on a variety of strategies for game restarts such as throwing in and free kicks.” A new piece of software enables a strategy to be selected that is perfectly tailored to the opponent in question. In this way, a special strategy could be executed tailored for the Chinese rival Water, during the finale, whom the team from Eindhoven before during world finals.


Care robot HERO asks for confirmation. Photo: Tech United.

Care robots

In addition to the soccer tournaments, Tech United also participates with a care robot called 'HERO'. In the Domestic Standard Platform League all teams use the same Toyota Human Support Robot, but not every team uses the same software. The Eindhoven robot excels especially in its 'world model', the digital representation of the world. The robot makes a 3D map of the walls, places all kinds of digital objects such as cabinets and benches against them, and a special code explains that it is more convenient to stand in front of a cabinet instead of next to it.

During the 'challenges', the robots receive commands from the popular messaging service Telegram, such as "Find Josja in the living room" and "Take out the garbage". Such tasks may seem simple, but there are still many challenges for robots. Not only does it have to make a digital map of the space, the robot also has to properly understand the task, be able to recognize objects such as benches and cans, and finally devise optimal strategies for different tasks.


The team behind care robot HERO. Photo: Tech United

More background?

What does it take to see the ball? How does a soccer robot decide to go from A to B? How does a team decide whether to launch an attack or to defend instead? What's going on in their brains? Do soccer robots dream of penalties? Find out more about the technology needed for a successful football robot in this background article.


Aldo Brinkman
(Science Information Officer)