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

© TU/e Tech United
© TU/e Tech United
  • TU/e Tech United won the RoboCup competition for the seventh time.
  • The @home team ended fourth.
  • Next year, the Robocup will be in Eindhoven.

In Bordeaux, Tech United won 6-2 in the finals against another team from the Brainport region, the Falcons of Veldhoven-based chip machine manufacturer ASML. Both teams played strong defensively. After a 2-0 halftime score, more chances arose in the second half, and Tech United could won a convincing victory.

Agility and acceleration

The team notes that 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 swerve robots can also accelerate up to 3 times faster than before, 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 as soon as the whistle blows, they play soccer completely independently, and humans are just spectators.

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

Household tasks

Care 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 further 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.

© TU/e Tech United
© TU/e Tech United

HERO impressed the audience by winning the “Restaurant Challenge”, where the robot must navigate 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 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 come to Eindhoven. It is the second time Eindhoven is hosting; the World Cup was also in the Netherlands in 2013.

© TU/e Tech United
© TU/e Tech United