Robot lionesses of TU Eindhoven defend world title in Sydney
Follow the soccer robots like Lieke Motors and Vivianne Wheelie live via robocup.live
Between 2 and 7 July the RoboCup World Championship will take place in Sydney, where TU Eindhoven is defending its world title. The robots have been given female names this year, as a tribute to the success of the Dutch female soccer team, the Oranje Lionesses. And there’s a new strategy: tailored to each opponent. Every year the robot championships have taken place since 2008, the TU/e team, Tech United, has reached the final. Apart from the soccer, Tech United is taking part in the care robot category.
In 2018 the soccer robots of TU Eindhoven won the world championship at the RoboCup in Montréal. So there's a lot at stake. As a tribute to the extraordinary performances of the Dutch soccer lionesses, the players of the robot football team of TU Eindhoven were given new names this year. The selection for the World Championship, that takes place from 2 to 7 July in Sydney will consist of star players Lieke Motors and Vivianne Wielema in attack, Jackie Groenestroom in midfield, and Dominique Bluetooth and goalkeeper Sari van Verenstaal in defense. Lineth Rekenbrein is a substitute attacker eager to grab some playing time.
Extra fast thanks to experimental wheels
"We have been able to improve the robots considerably in recent times," says team captain Wouter Kuijpers of Tech United. "The dribbling qualities of the players have improved a lot. Wielema is a new type of football robot that is specially equipped with 8 motorized wheels for ultra-fast moves." As a result, robot Wielema is almost as fast as Usain Bolt in the 100 meters.
Special strategy per opponent
Kuijpers continues: "The team has trained in secret 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. "This will make it easier to push through the Chinese defense and the Japanese will not be able to get too close to our goal," says Kuijpers.
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.
Follow the broadcasts live
The first robot soccer game will be played on Thursday morning 3 July at 09:00 local time (it is 8 hours later in Sydney than in the Netherlands, so 01:00 for us). The semi-finals are on Sunday morning 09:00 and 10:30 (01:00 and 02:30, respectively) and the final starts at 14:30 (06:30 Sunday morning Dutch time). All matches will be broadcast live via robocup.live.
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.