July 6, 2009 The cooperative soccer playing robots of the Universität Stuttgart are world champions in the middle size league of robot soccer. After one of the most interesting competitions in the history of Robocup from 29th June to 5th July, 2009, in Graz, the 1. RFC Stuttgart on the last day of the competition succeeded in winning the world championship 2009 in an exciting game against the team of Tech United from Eindhoven (The Netherlands) with the final result of 4:1.
During the competition Stuttgart's robots had to make their way against 13 other teams from eight countries, among them the current world champion Cambada (Portugal). Besides the teams from Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, and Austria, teams from China, Japan, and Iran competed against each other.
The 1.RFC Stuttgart includes staff of two Institutes, namely the department of Image Understanding (Head: Prof. Levi) of the Institute of Parallel and Distributed Systems and the Institute of Technical Optics (Head: Prof. Osten), achieved also the 2nd place at the so-called "technical challenge" and a further 1st place at the "scientific challenge".
After the final match of the competition, the middle-size league robots of the 1. RFC Stuttgart - the new world champion - had to play against the human officials of the RoboCup federation. It turned out, that hereby the robots were the inferior team. Clearly the RoboCup community has still to bridge a vast distance to reach their final goal to let a humanoid robot team play against the human world champion by the year 2050.
The success tells its own tale but one might wonder which scientific interest is behind the RoboCup competitions. Preconditions for the successful participation at these competitions are extensive efforts in current research topics of computer science such as real-time image processing and architectures, cooperative robotics and distributed planning. Possible application scenarios of these research activities reach from autonomous vehicles, cooperative manufacturing robotics, service robotics to the point of planetary or deep-sea exploration by autonomous robotic systems. In this context autonomous means that no or only a limited human intervention is necessary.
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