After a two-year break due to the pandemic, the World Robot Soccer Championship was held again for the first time - this time in Bangkok, Thailand. There have been many technical developments in the meantime, but the result still hasn't changed much since the last tournament.
The old and new world champion is the »B-Human« team from the University of Bremen and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). It was able to beat the HTWK Robots from Leipzig in the final. With a total of 48:0 goals in seven games, B-Human remained the undisputed world champion without conceding a goal.
B-Human achieved the victory in Bangkok with a clear lead over the runner-up »HTWK Robots« as well as »rUNSWift« from Sydney (3rd place) and the »Nao Devils« from Dortmund (4th place). But the pandemic also left its mark on the competition. On the one hand there were less teams present - some teams participated from a distance. On the other hand, there were more additional technical competitions, most of which could have been held remotely had the presence event been cancelled. These so-called Technical Challenges are about exploring possible rule changes for the future. This time, for example, the game was tested with teams of seven NAO robots each, i.e. humanoid robots. Until now, five robots have formed a team. It was also tested whether the robots can recognize referee gestures so that in future they can interact directly with the referee instead of being told the referee's decisions by radio. The total of four Technical Challenges were judged together and here, too, Team B-Human was able to take first place.
During Pandemic, the main innovation of the league was that its own software could be run on other people's robots without the human team members even being on site. This year, the main competition was essentially about reducing communication between robots during the game. Previously, each NAO was allowed to send a maximum of one message per second. According to the new rules, a maximum number applies to the entire team and the entire game, which effectively corresponds to a reduction in data exchange by a factor of five. Each robot must therefore always consider in advance whether sending a message really makes sense in the current situation. The Bremen team used numerous criteria for this purpose, as well as a sliding upper limit aligned with the remaining game time, in order to continue to enable cooperative team play. It was this team play in particular that was the strength of B-Human in this tournament as well. The flexible positioning and dynamic division of tasks among the field players, together with the ability to play precise passes to better-positioned teammates, which has been used since this year, led to a clear superiority on the field in all competitions of the RoboCup and provided B-Human with its now ninth world title in the Standard Platform League.
Currently, B-Human is composed of fifteen students from the University of Bremen, one former student who is involved with the team in his spare time, and the supervising scientists Dr. Thomas Röfer and Arne Hasselbring from the DFKI Cyber-Physical Systems research area, which is headed by Prof. Dr. Rolf Drechsler, and Dr. Tim Laue from the University of Bremen from Prof. Dr. Udo Frese's research group. CONTACT Software, a provider of solutions for product process and digital transformation, has been the main sponsor of B-Human since 2017.