CITEC Ranks Again in the Top Three Best Robots Worldwide

Team of Bielefeld (ToBi) takes third place at RoboCup world championship in Japan

Researchers at Bielefeld University’s Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) landed in third place in a neck-and-neck competition at the RoboCup world championship. Teams from around the world met this year in Nagoya, Japan, for the 21st annual RoboCup competition. The team’s success is particularly impressive, given that this year, the team was made up exclusively of students. They competed in the RoboCup@Home household service league against 14 other teams.

The Team of Bielefeld is led by Johannes Kummert, Luca Lach, Dominik Sixt, Florian Lier, and Sven Wachsmuth. Other members of the 2017 team include Sebastian Müller, Thilo Reinold, Bjarte Feldmann, Felix Friese, Kai Konen, Sarah Schröder, Lukas Hindemith, and Robert Feldhans. (Photo: CITEC/ Bielefeld University) Team leader Privatdozent Dr. Sven Wachsmuth was thrilled with the student-team’s performance, even if they weren’t able to defend their title of world champion. Doctoral researcher Florian Lier, together with three Master’s and Bachelor’s students – Johannes Kummert, Luca Lach, and Dominik Sixt – led the team. “We were right up there in the lead in all of the subtasks of the competition,” says Luca Lach. “This shows how well diversified we are at CITEC. In the past three years, it has always been neck-and-neck among the top teams from Koblenz, Eindhoven, and Bielefeld. And what could make for a more exciting competition?”
The biggest challenge for the Team of Bielefeld was that they had to prepare for two competitions in the RoboCup@Home league at the same time. In addition to the Open Platform League (OPL), there are now also two different Standard Platform Leagues in which all teams use the same commercial robot platform. The Team of Bielefeld competed in this year’s OPL with their world champion robot platform from last year. Over the past winter, a new student team was trained, and this team placed in the top three in Nagoya. After the first and second rounds of robot tests, the team had even made it to second place. However, since the third team was practically tied, league officials decided to open the finale to three teams instead of two. This was some bad luck for ToBi – despite a convincing final demonstration, the jury evaluated the other two teams’ performance a tad higher. First place went to Team homer from Koblenz, second place to Team TechUnited from Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and third place to the Team of Bielefeld.

Johannes Kummert and his team hope to be successful with Pepper the robot in next year’s competition. This year, the household service robot ToBi (center) placed again in the top three (Photo: CITEC/Bielefeld University).  In the new Standard Platform League for social robots (SSPL), most of the teams initially had many technical issues with the humanoid robot called Pepper. Long lead times for the robot shrank the preparatory period down to two and a half months, and many problems had to be solved on-site at the competition in order to establish a stable WiFi connection, which was needed because the robot did not have enough computing resources on board to solve the tasks at hand. For this reason, the ToBi@Pepper Team was pleased that in the end, Pepper still managed to successfully solve some of the subtasks. In this competition, the AUPAIR team from South Korea proved to be the clear winner, showing that the robot is indeed suitable for competition. During the next RoboCup competition in Montreal, it will be exciting to see whether the other teams, especially CITEC’s team, will be able to follow their lead. “With Pepper, we were able to gain some very important experience in solving some key problems, such as navigational ability in complex situations,” says Florian Lier. “With some more time to prepare, we will be able to contend for the lead in Montreal.”

The first RoboCup competition was held 20 years ago in Nagoya, Japan, where some 30 researchers came together, pitting their robot teams against each other in a game of soccer in a large single room. Several enormous exhibition halls were rented for this year’s Nagoya competition, where 3,000 schoolchildren, students, and researchers competed with their robots in some 20 different leagues.

More information is available online at:

Tweets from the Team of Bielefeld: https://twitter.com/clf_citec
Official Website of RoboCup 2017: https://robocup2017.org/eng/leagues_home.html
Report on 2016 World Championship in Leipzig: http://ekvv.uni-bielefeld.de/blog/uniaktuell/entry/citec_roboter_gewinnen_weltmeisterschaft


Contact:
PD Dr. Sven Wachsmuth, Bielefeld University
CITEC Central Lab Facilities
Telephone: 0521 106-2937
Email: swachsmu@techfak.uni-bielefeld.de


Florian Lier, Bielefeld University
CITEC Central Lab Facilities
Telephone: 0521 106-2933
Email: flier@cit-ec.uni-bielefeld.de