Bielefeld Robot Wins World Championship in Canada

Team from Cluster of Excellence CITEC prevails in RoboCup finale

A team of students and researchers from the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) at Bielefeld University won the RoboCup World Championship in Montreal, Canada. RoboCup is the leading, and largest, competition for intelligent robots in the world. The “Team of Bielefeld” (ToBi) showed its skills with Pepper the robot in the household service league. More than 400 teams from around the world competed in the various leagues of the competition from 18-22 June 2018. The researchers are now back in Bielefeld.

The CITEC team earned first place with Pepper in the household service league of the RoboCup World Championship. Dr. Sven Wachsmuth, who heads the CITEC Central Labs, and his research associate Florian Lier led the team, together with Master’s student Johannes Kummert. “It’s fantastic to see how the students have progressed from the first preparations to the competition,” says Wachsmuth. “They learned to deal with complex systems like robots, and to work independently with them. That we were then able to take first place is, of course, a great success.”

Lier adds: “The team prepared itself very well, also for dealing with uncertainties. The infrastructure there is different from that in the lab. The students put a lot of work into making the software as stable as possible, and they succeeded in this.”

In the household service league RoboCup@Home, their robot had to master various assistive tasks as precisely as possible, including working as a waiter, bringing groceries into the home, loading a dishwasher, giving visitors an introductory tour of RoboCup, and finding its way in unfamiliar surroundings. The CITEC team competed in the Social Standard Platform League (SSPL), a subleague of the household service league. In the SSPL, teams only compete with Pepper, a robot produced by the company Softbank. Second place went to the team from Australia, where the next RoboCup competition will be held, and the team from Chile took third place.

Bielefeld University students refined Pepper’s software, enabling the robot to react much more robustly to its environment. Student Janneke Simmering from the CITEC team took part in the robot world championship for the first time. “The exciting question was: will the robot do what it’s supposed to do? We spent four weeks programming the software and tried to prepare for as many factors and eventualities as possible. The work paid off, and that’s a great feeling. We’re celebrating now.”

Members of this year’s team included: Robert Feldhans, Felix Friese, Kai Konen, David Leins, Jan Patrick Nülle, Sarah Schröder, Janneke Simmering, Philipp von Neumann-Cosel, Johannes Kummert, Florian Lier and Sven Wachsmuth. The preparations for RoboCup are incorporated into a university seminar – each year, new students from the course work together in the team. The Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) has participated in RoboCup since 2009. In 2016, the team earned the title of world champion for the first time, and the team has also taken third place a total of three times: 2012, in Mexico; 2015, in China; and 2017, in Japan.

The Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) at Bielefeld University is one of 43 clusters of excellence in Germany, and the only cluster with a focus in robotics. CITEC is working to make technical systems intuitive and easy to operate. CITEC’s interdisciplinary approach combines cognitive research with technology. Since 2007, CITEC has been funded as part of the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments. Approximately 250 researchers work at the Cluster.

Dr.-Ing. Sven Wachsmuth coordinates the RoboCup team.Dr.-Ing. Sven Wachsmuth, Bielefeld University
Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC)
Telephone: 0521 106-2937

More information is available online at:
RoboCup World Championship:
Press release from 1 June 2018: