26 Mar 2007

Dancing, daring, dribbling robots to invade Shrewsbury

RoboCupJunior (Photo: Chris Valentine)

RoboCupJunior (Photo: Chris Valentine)

Dancing robots. Rescue robots. Football playing robots. They will all be competing in the RoboCupJunior UK finals this month supported by The Open University Robotics Outreach Group with the best going to America representing the UK in the world finals at RoboCup 2007.

School robotics teams, with students from 7 to 18 years old from across the UK, are busy building and programming robot talent to compete for the honour of representing the UK in the junior league at RoboCup 2007, to be held at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta, USA in July.

The best of their robotic creations will be in Shropshire on 28th March to participate in the RoboCupJunior UK Finals, hosted this year by Belvidere School, Shrewsbury in their new Sports Hall.

The teams will participate in three competitions – RoboDance, RoboRescue and RoboSoccer:
• In RoboDance, for children aged seven and over, one or more robots perform to music in a display emphasising creativity of costume and movement. Optionally, the contestants may dance along with their robots, and may even compose and perform the music.
• In RoboRescue, for nine to eighteen year olds, robots race to rescue victims in a simulated disaster. Each time they encounter a “body”, made of green or silver vinyl film, they stop and flash a lamp for two seconds.
• In RoboSoccer, for eleven to eighteen year olds, autonomous robots jostle for control of the infrared emitting ball, on a greyscale pitch.

For each competition, the team must build and program one or more robots appropriate for the task.


The Open University Robotics Outreach Group is a multidisciplinary research group that develops widening participation and educational outreach activities and administers RoboCupJunior and other robotics competitions in the UK.

RoboCup is an international scientific endeavour whose goal is to produce a humanoid robot football team capable of beating the human World Cup champions by the year 2050.

RoboCupJunior is designed to introduce RoboCup to primary and secondary school children. The focus in the junior league is on education. RoboCupJunior intends to inspire today’s children to become tomorrow’s engineers – perhaps the same engineers who’ll create the 2050 humanoid robot football champions!

RoboCupJunior offers several challenges, each emphasizing both cooperative and competitive aspects. For children, the Junior initiative provides an exciting introduction to the field of robotics, a new way to develop technical abilities through hands-on experience with electronics, hardware and software, and a highly motivating opportunity to learn about teamwork while sharing technology with friends. RoboCupJunior provides a unique opportunity for participants with a variety of interests and strengths to work together as a team to achieve a common goal.

Dr Ashley Green of the Open University Robotics Outreach Group says: “Belvidere School is a fitting venue for this year’s UK Finals, as they were one of the first schools to introduce robotics into the curriculum, and they fielded two of the twelve teams who represented the UK at RoboCup 2006 in Bremen last June. They are also one of the few schools in the UK to have a purpose-built robotics lab.”

Among the audience at this year’s UK Finals will be ten girls from Osaka, Japan who will be spending a week performing community service projects in Shrewsbury. Their visit is an outcome of RoboCup 2005 in Osaka, where Dr Green and the RoboCupJunior 2005 UK teams met with representatives of the Osaka International House Foundation who organise the annual Youth Volunteer Mission. This will be the second Osaka Youth Volunteer Mission hosted by Belvidere School.

Editor’s Notes

RoboCupJunior History

RoboCupJunior began in 1998, with a demonstration at RoboCup-98 in Paris. The following year, RoboCup-99 in Stockholm exhibited the first interactive RoboCupJunior workshops.

At RoboCupJunior 2000 in Melbourne, over 25 teams from Australia, Germany and the USA participated.

At RoboCupJunior 2001 in Seattle, 25 teams from the USA, Australia, Germany and the UK entered soccer, rescue and dance challenges. A brother and sister team, Max and Grace Petre Eastty from Heronsgate Middle School in Milton Keynes, earned the title of World Primary Robot Dance Champions.

RoboCupJunior 2002 was held in Fukuoka, Japan. 59 teams from 12 countries participated.

RoboCupJunior 2003 was held in Padua, Italy. 68 teams from 15 countries took part.

RoboCupJunior 2004 was held in Lisbon, Portugal. 172 teams from 17 countries took part.

RoboCupJunior 2005 was held in Osaka, Japan. 160 teams from 18 countries participated.

RoboCupJunior 2006 was held in Bremen, Germany. 240 teams from 22 countries took part. An all-girls team from Amberfield School in Nacton, Suffolk won the title of World Primary Robot Dance Champions.

RoboCupJunior 2007 will be held in Atlanta, USA.

RoboCupJunior 2008 will be held in Suzhou, China.

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