Robotics researchers compete in world cup in Brazil

Team from Bielefeld University enter competition with ‘Tobi’

Hot on the heels of the football world cup, a team from Bielefeld is going to Brazil to also compete in an international competition. From 21 to 24 July, the team from the cluster of excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) of Bielefeld University is taking part in the robot world cup ‘RoboCup’ in the Brazilian city of João Pessoa. The researchers have been preparing their robot ‘Tobi’ for ten tests that it will have to independently master without remote assistance. The one-armed electronic assistant is taking part in the household league ‘@Home’ against 18 robots from eleven countries.

In April, the team came in third place in the ‘RoboCup German Open’ in Magdeburg. Like the German competition, Tobi will be assisted in Brazil by minirobots, BeBots, during a test to clear up a room. For this purpose, several BeBots are placed in the room to analyse whether there is anything to clear up in their field of vision. If there is, then the BeBots inform Tobi, who clears the clutter away. For this demonstration, the Central Lab Facilities of the cluster of excellence CITEC have collaborated with two other research groups, ‘Cognotronics and Sensor Systems’ and ‘Applied Informatics’, which are also part of CITEC.

CITEC researcher Sebastian Meyer zu Borgsen and his teammates enter the competition ‘RoboCup’ with the robot ‘Tobi’. Photo: CITEC Around 4,000 participants from 45 countries are taking part in the world cup. In the household league, robots are expected to orient themselves in an apartment, understand humans, communicate with them and carry out services. The household league begins with the ‘Robo-Zoo’. The robots present their skills alongside one another and the audience evaluates their performance. After this, a jury of experts will judge whether the robots have mastered the basic functions which are required as a domestic assistance: gripping and placement of objects, comprehending language, which includes the ability to respond to commands and questions.

Test scenarios in which robots have to react to a situation using their own initiative are particularly challenging. In the scenario ‘Follow me’ they have to follow a person autonomously in an unfamiliar environment. In an emergency scenario, a robot has to detect if a person has fallen in an apartment in order to call for help. In a restaurant scenario, Tobi and its competitors will be tested on their competence as waiters, serving food and drinks.

Apart from the household league, robots will be presenting their skills in six other leagues. On show will be football robots, search and rescue robots and also robots that have to solve logistic problems, amongst others.

The Bielefeld robot is named after its team (‘ToBI’- Team of Bielefeld). Since 2009, the team has competed every year in the robot world cup. Its robot is based on the research prototype Biron (Bielefeld Robot Companion). New skills are programmed into the robot for each competition, partly with new added technology. At present, it is equipped with a gripping arm, moves along on wheels and explores its environment with depth sensors and a camera.

This year, the Bielefeld team is made up of nine students from the Master’s degree programme Intelligent Systems from the Faculty of Technology and three CITEC researchers. The head of the team is Dr. Sven Wachsmuth, Head of the Central Lab Facilities at CITEC.

After the competition, the team will be celebrating its participation in the world cup with a ‘Homecoming Event’. During this event, Tobi will be demonstrating his new skills.

Further information available on the Internet:

Eva Winkelmann, Bielefeld University
Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC)
Telephone: +49 (0)521 106 6567