(PhD)Students develop new software and mechatronics in order to be successful in RoboCup competitions. This software can also be useful for applications in society.
But why is a football league chosen to boost the development of robotics? First of all, soccer is a popular sport worldwide so soccer competitions get a lot of attention from spectators since a lot of people enjoy wachting soccer matches. Secondly, playing soccer with robots is a huge challenge on the field of software and mechatronics. Moreover, the element of competition makes that the entire team is highly motivated so they will spend a large part of their spare time planning, designing and improving the robots. Everyone dreams of being the world champion some day!
RoboCup and innovation
RoboCup is a very innovative project. In mechatronics and software design a lot is still undiscovered. Within RoboCup completely new ideas are conceived and developed. Because the RoboCup organization adjusts the rules each year, all teams are forced to innovate year after year.
RoboCup in society
The knowledge gained from various projects in RoboCup soccer can be applied in society. Our service robot AMIGO is a direct example. Many techniques have been copied diractly from the TURTLE to the robot. The way of moving (with omnidirectionalwheels) is identical in both systems. The knowledge of the humanoid robot is usable in the normal household. Because this robot walks like a real man, he can climb stairs. This way the robot is able to enter any spot in the house. So RoboCup soccer can directly solve problems in our society.
AMIGO could offer support to the nursing staff by, for example, helping with lifting, cleaning pots and pick beds. Tech United thus contributes to innovative solutions for the care sector. The challenges that AMIGO must complete within the RoboCup @ Home league, are not necessarily care related. Recognition of a product in a supermarket or the serving drinks, for example. But, all these things combined in one robot will make him a complete help in the household.
Innovative new mechatronics could also play a role in surgical operations (the cure sector). Minimal Invasive Surgery is a mode of operation where the surgeon using a number of robot arms performs an operation. The TU/e designed this surgical robot, SOPHIE (photo below). Members of Tech United have contributed to the development of this system.
New insights from RoboCup are also used to improve adaptive cruise control in cars. Adaptive cruise control is the technique in cars, which ensures that every car is always at the same distance from his predecessor. Adaptive cruise control is already being used in new cars, but is still improving. It would be great if the cars were driving very close together. This would tackle traffic congestion, save fuel and it would make driving safer and faster. Watch the video below to see the TURTLEs in action during a research in efficient flow of traffic.