Author: Meike Mossig
News no.: 2017035

Robot Soccer: Team B-Human World Champions Once Again

Struggling for control of the ball

B-Human during the finals against Nao Team HTWK Leipzig

The winner: The B-Human team is German Master of the Standard Platform League 2017

They seem to be invincible: The robot kickers Team B-Human, “trained” by the German Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and the University of Bremen, are once again German champions. The reigning European and world-champion squad successfully defended their title in the Standard Platform League of the RoboCup German Open in Magdeburg — for the eighth time in a row! The German Championship took place in Magdeburg from May 5 to 7, 2017. B-Human now remains unbeaten on the European level since 2009.

Tense final match against the Nao-Team HTWK from Leipzig

As in several past battles for the European RoboCup, the thrilling final match was once again fought out between B-Human and the Nao-Team HTWK from Leipzig, who came third in the last World Championship. Both teams were in great form: The Leipzig kickers were particularly strong in dribbling the ball and tackling their opponents, whereas the title defenders from Bremen impressed with their player positioning and long, accurate passes. Making optimum use of several strikers, the Nao-Team HTWK managed to keep play in the Bremen half for most of the match, where it came to a series of intense struggles for the ball. On regaining control of the ball, though, B-Human was always quick to reverse the tables. On several occasions, they made attempts to score with powerful kicks from deep in their own half. Skillfully parading in front of the posts, the Leipzig goalkeeper cleverly beat off these attacks, but was left with no chance when the Bremen strikers moved in at closer quarters. The final match ended with the score of 4:1 for B-Human. It should be noted, however, that the only point for Leipzig came from a spectacular unintentional overhead kick from a stumbling B-Human robot.

New tournament format with the “Champions Cup” and “Challenge Shield”

The course of play and the end result was very similar to that of the last European Championship final. The course of the tournament itself, though, was different this year. The competition was divided into the “Champions Cup” and the “Challenge Shield”. The new format has been chosen to ensure that as far as possible equally strong opponents are matched against each other in the Standard Platform League – comparable with the first and second national league. Thus, B-Human was pitched against the Nao-Team HTWK as well as Berlin United and the Nao Devils Dortmund in the first group stage. The Bremen team was also able to win all its preliminary matches, as well as the semi-finals against Berlin United, who first had to play a relegation game against the winners of the “Challenge Shield” in order to qualify.

The robots played on artificial turf

Another difference compared with previous years is that the kickers now play on artificial “turf” – which in Magdeburg was a robot-friendlier pitch covered with very short-cut fibers. This time there was also much more light on the pitch because it was located nearer to a large window, although this did present a certain challenge to the software incorporated in the players’ cameras.

About B-Human

Team B-Human currently comprises eleven NAO robots, 19 current and former students of the University of Bremen, and research academics Dr. Thomas Röfer from the DFKI Research Area Cyber-Physical Systems, which is led by Professor Rolf Drechsler, and Dr. Tim Laue from the University of Bremen.

About the Standard Platform League

B-Human plays regularly in the RoboCup tournament’s Standard Platform League, which owes its name to the fact that all participating teams use the same model of robot: the humanoid robot NAO manufactured by Softbank Robotics. The teams differ solely in respect of the software developed for the robots to run on. Thanks to this software, the NAOs are completely autonomous during play.

World Championships in Japan

B-Human will gain compete in the World Robot Soccer Championship competition taking place from July 27 to 31. This year, the championships will be held in Nagoya (Japan) – the venue of the first RoboCup championships held in 1997.

If you would like to have more information on this topic, feel free to contact:

Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH (DFKI)
Research Area Cyber-Physical Systems
Dr. Thomas Röfer
Phone: +49 421-218 64200
email: Thomas.RoefernoSpam@dfki.de

DFKI Communications
Phone: +49 (0)421-17845 4111
email: uk-hbnoSpam@dfki.de

University of Bremen
Press & Outreach Office
Phone: +49 421-218 60150
email: pressenoSpam@uni-bremen.de