RoboWorld Cup kicks off!

22nd August 2012
The annual RoboWorld Cup has kicked off, and this year it's in the UK. Organised by FIRA (the Federation of International Robot-soccer Association), the competition sees roboticists from around the world gather together to test out their newest technology.

This year, the Bristol Robotics Lab is hosting the event, and the 26 teams are competing at the At-Bristol science centre. It's the first time in the competition's 16-year history that the cup has been held in the UK.

The machines take part in a number of different events. The HuroCup, for example, sees two-legged, humanoid robots perform a number of different disciplines - a robot version of the decathlon and heptathlon at the Olympics. One of these events is the Penalty Kick, in which the robot has to manoeuvre around obstacles and kick a ball into a goal within a two-minute time limit.

The aiRobot from Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University lines up its shot...

...and it's a goal! Top class finish by the Taiwanese robot

But Rocky the Robot from Singapore's Nanyang Polytechnic equalises soon after

When it comes to robot soccer, there are competitions for all shapes and sizes. In RoboSot, teams of large, fully-autonomous robots attempt to drive the football past the opposing goalkeeper.   

Two RoboSot robots go head-to-head

MiroSot, on the other hand, sees miniature robots whizzing around after an orange golf ball. This is the fastest and most aggressive game in the RoboWorld Cup, and it demands some complex computer programming. A host computer linked to a camera above the pitch works out the location of the individual robots, and then tells each one where it should go according to the team strategy.    

A roboticist prepares for MiroSot

In SimuroSot, the robots are even smaller. This is a simulation game, in which each team develops their own strategy and uploads the programme to a server that hosts a soccer simulator.  

SimuroSot: robot soccer on a screen

But it's not all about football. One of the other HuroCup events is the 'Lift and Carry', which tests a robot's ability to traverse an uneven surface. In this year's event, the robot has to reach a raised blue marker without falling over, first without and then with a battery attached to its body.
One of the smaller HuroCup robots make its way up to the blue plateau

The best action, though, is still to come. If you'd like to see some of the robot shenanigans first-hand, FIRA's RoboWorld Cup 2012 takes place at At-Bristol from 22 to 25 August, and entry is free.