RoboCup German Open 2012 RoboCup 2011 RoboCup 2009 RoboCup 2008 SIAR 2011 SIAR 2010 SIAR 2009


Robot Soccer Demonstration, NUI Maynooth


Public demonstration of autonomous robot soccer

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With Euro 2012 just about to start, RoboEireann, Ireland's robot soccer team from NUI Maynooth will be on public display from 1400-1600 on Friday, 8 June 2012. The event is free to attend but places are limited so booking is essential by emailing electronic.engineering@nuim.ie

Robot soccer is part of RoboCup, an international research initiative aimed at advancing the state of the art in intelligent autonomous robotics. RoboEireann competes in the Standard Platform League where all teams use identical humanoid robot hardware but must develop software that enables the robots to understand their surroundings, make decisions, and coordinate their behaviour without human intervention or remote control.

At the event, RoboEireann team members, comprising students and staff from the Department of Electronic Engineering and Department of Computer Science at NUI Maynooth, will demonstrate robot soccer in action, explain the challenges involved, and answer any questions.

The event will be of interest to anyone who has an interest in robotics, engineering, or even just soccer. While the game isnít played at the speed of human soccer, it is fascinating to watch - particularly when you appreciate the huge amount of work and expertise that has gone into each move the robots make.







RoboCup German Open 2012, Magdeburg, Germany


Maynooth team place second in European Robot Soccer Competition

Team Photo

Irelandís Robot Soccer team, RoboEireann, from NUI Maynooth were runners up at the 2012 German Open, a European Robot Soccer competition, held annually in Magdeburg, Germany. The competition, which featured 38 teams from 12 nations, involves soccer playing robots pitting their skills against each other, just like their human counterparts will in the upcoming European Football Championship.

The competition format, like the European Football Championship, has a group stage followed by knock-out rounds. RoboEireann overcame teams from Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Germany before eventually succumbing to the world champions, B-Human of Germany, in the final.

RoboCup is an international research initiative aimed at advancing the state of the art in intelligent autonomous robotics. RoboEireann competes in the Standard Platform League where all teams use identical humanoid robot hardware but must develop software that enables the robots to understand their surroundings, make decisions, and coordinate their behaviour without human intervention or remote control.

RoboEireann comprises students and staff from the Department of Electronic Engineering and Department of Computer Science at NUI Maynooth. Commenting on the teamís success, Rudi Villing, team coach and lecturer in the Electronic Engineering Dept., said ďRoboCup is an invaluable practical environment for students to learn about the challenges of creating intelligent humanoid robots and the competitive element is a great motivator for them to develop and showcase their innovative research. Our great result in this competition builds on our previous Open Challenge win in the RoboCup 2011 world championship and fourth place finish in the 2011 German Open.Ē

The team gratefully acknowledges the financial support for the research and outreach activities provided by Science Foundation Ireland though its UREKA Programme Summer Internship in Autonomous Robotics award to Dr. SeŠn McLoone and a Principal Investigator award to Professor Rick Middleton.









RoboCup 2011, Istanbul


Robocup Open Challenge Winners 2011

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RoboEireann, Ireland's Robot Soccer team from NUI Maynooth, was victorious this year in the Open Challenge competition at Robocup 2011 held in Istanbul, Turkey. The team, consisting of students and staff from the Hamilton Institute, Department of Electronic Engineering and Department of Computer Science at NUI Maynooth participated in the Standard Platform League (SPL) against 26 other teams from around the world. Standard Platform League (SPL) uses identical fully autonomous humanoid robots allowing teams to focus on research challenges associated with developing software to enable robots to reliably perceive their environment, achieve fast stable locomotion, exhibit intelligent behaviour and coordination among team members.

Robocup encompasses a number of competitions. RoboEireann were also competing in the soccer tournament but were unfortunate to be knocked out by Cerberus, the Turkish team early in the competition.

The Open Challenge competition is designed to encourage creativity within the Standard Platform League, allowing teams to demonstrate interesting research in the field of autonomous systems. RoboEireann secured victory in the Open Challenge competition with their innovative research on autonomous robot localisation. Thomas Whelan and Sonja Stuedli, the principal authors of this research, also presented their work at the annual Robocup symposium held in conjunction with the competition.

Speaking at the event Dr SeŠn McLoone, Head of the Department of Electronic Engineering at NUI Maynooth said "Robocup is an international research initiative aimed at advancing the state of the art intelligent autonomous robotics. It is an excellent environment for students to showcase their innovative research."

The team gratefully acknowledges the financial support for the research and outreach activities provided by Science Foundation Ireland though its UREKA Programme Summer Internship in Autonomous Robotics and a PI award to Professor Rick Middleton. Team members included Dr SeŠn McLoone, Thomas Whelan, Alex Buckley, Sonja Stuedli, Rudi Villing, Aodhan Coffey and Fiachra Mathews.







2009 RoboCup Soccer


Standard Platform - 2 Legged League - Graz, Austria

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In 2009 NUI Maynooth formed its own team, RoboEireann, and competed for the first time in Robocup 2009 in Graz, Austria. The team was under the expert guidance of Professor Rick Middleton, The Hamilton and Dr. Sean McLoone from the Department of Electronic Engineering and included six students from three areas of the University, Shekman Tang, Xindong Zhou (Computer Science), Alex Buckley, Sean Redmond, Aodhan Coffey (Electronic Engineering) and Fiachra Matthews from The Hamilton Institute.

After two draws and one defeat Robo Eireann was eventually knocked out by Team Chaos in a sudden death penalty shootout in the intermediate round of the competition. The eventual winners were B-Human from the University of Bremen. They performed impressively throughout the competion beating Northern Bites 5:0 in the final.


Video clips from Robocup 2009









2008 RoboCup Soccer



Standard Platform - 2 Legged League - Suzhou, China


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Newcastle University (Australia) and NUI Maynooth competed as the NUManoids in the 2008 RoboCup Soccer, Standard Platform - 2 Legged League and achieved first place! The team consisted of postgraduate students, and academics from the University of Newcastle and from NUI Maynooth. From NUI Maynooth, Shekman Tang, Alexander Buckley and Prof Rick Middleton travelled to Suzhou (near Shangai) to compete in the competition and attend the symposium from 14 -20 July. Other students (John Doyle and David Gibson) and academics have also provided input to the interdisciplinary team combining Applied Mathematics (The Hamilton Institute), Computer Science and Electronic Engineering. This work was been supported by a Science Foundation of Ireland – Research Professor Award.

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The NUbots (from the University of Newcastle) have been competing in RoboCup  since 2002 and have been placed in the top 3 since entering the competition, including first place in 2006. In 2008, a joint team with NUI Maynooth was formed with the new name, the NUManoids, competing in the new Standard Platform League. This league uses identical hardware (humanoid Nao Robots from Aldebaran), and teams write their own software for autonomous soccer. The robots have only recently been released, so all 15 teams were intense in trying to advance the robots skills for the competition.

After initial setup and practices, the competition started on 16 July. We were the first team to score an own goal, but fortunately, also the first team to score a goal. The preliminary rounds were generally low scoring events, and based on other criteria, the NUManoids were ranked 1st in their pool.

We advanced through the quarter final and semi final without conceding any more goals, and came to face strong opposition in the final from the combined Georgia Tech-Carnegie Mellon (GT/CMU) team. GT/CMU had also scored several goals in the finals round and although slower than the NUManoids, had strong skills in lining up and kicking the ball.

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The final was a tense affair, with neither side being able to gain too much of an advantage and neither side scored. The decision came down to a penalty shoot out. These are a timed chance for a team to score a goal – with multiple ball contact allowed. From the coin toss, GT/CMU had first kick. After the whistle, they lined up their shot carefully, kicked, and the ball went straight towards the goal. They followed up, but were slow to line up correctly but did score a goal after a little over 2 minutes. It was then the NUManoids turn. Our replacement striker (our key Irish striker stumbled, fell and was injured in regular time), was set to take the kick. He lined up, moved in for the kick and managed to keep the ball on target. The goal was scored in a little over 10seconds, with the NUManoids winning because of the shorter time to score.


Videos from the Competition Final

Sources: Rick Middleton, Newcastle Robotics Laboratory







SIAR Program 2011


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2011 was the third and final year of the SFI funded SIAR programme. This year we had students from Ireland, France, India, Pakistan and Canada. The interns were on-site for 10 weeks from 6 June - 12 August. The programme consisted of a variety of educational activities similar to those held in 2009 and 2010. The 2011 social activities included visits to Maynooth Castle, National Science Museum, Trim Castle and the Hill of Tara. The group also went on a Ghost Tour of Dublin city. The students attended two workshops. One was held in association with the NUIM SPUR programme; the topics covered were Ethics & Good Research Practice, an introduction the NUIM Graduate Studies office and an informative talk on the DRHEA Undergraduate Conference. The second workshop was dedicated to Robotics. The Keynote speakers were Dr. Thomas RŲfer, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, Bremen and Prof. John Leonard, MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering and MIT CSAIL.

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SIAR Program 2010


The Summer Internship in Autonomous Robotics (SIAR) UREKA site at NUI Maynooth hosted 10 undergraduate research students for 10 weeks during the summer of 2010. The participants were:

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    Paul Murray, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

    Gavin Armstrong, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

    Musfira Jilani, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India

    Louise McGlynn, University College Dublin, Ireland

    David Kennedy, University College Dublin, Ireland

    TŁrker Coşkun, Bilkent University, Turkey

    Saad Noor, Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIKI), Pakistan

    Ciaran Burke, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

    Catriona Egan, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


Research Projects

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During their internship each SIAR student worked on a research project relating to the technological challenges associated with humanoid robotic soccer. This included colour classification and object detection (image processing), simultaneous localisation and mapping (signal processing) and stable locamotion (control)


Educational and social activities

As part of the programme a variety of educational and social activities were also arranged for the students. Education events included lectures on technical communication (writing, presentations etc.), conducting a literature review, good research practice, project management, research commercialisation and ethics, and tutorials/workshops on Matlab, LaTeX and the NAO robot software development platform. The summer was filled with cultural activities. This year the interns visited the National Science Museum, which is located on campus. They also went on a tour of Dublin city which included a trip to Dublinia (Viking and Medieval Dublin). The SIAR class also went to Meath to visit the Hill of Tara. The SIAR students were taken on guided tours of Microsoft Ireland and Intel. During the last week of the summer we had an Irish Culture night in the Arlington Hotel, an evening of Irish music and dancing. On the last day of the programme a special workshop was held. A lecture was given by an Invited speakers: Dan Toal, Director Mobile & Marine Robotics Research Centre at the University of Limerick and Maurice Fallon, Research Scientist, Marine Robotics Group, MIT. Robo-soccer demonstration by Fiachra Matthews and the interns presented posters together with a visual demonstration of their projects. This was followed by a graduation and farewell reception.

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SIAR Program 2009


The Summer Internship in Autonomous Robotics (SIAR) UREKA site was established in February 2009 under SFI UREKA programme grant 09/UR/I1524. Under the programme funding is provided for a number of 10-week undergraduate research summer internships over a 3 year period.  The first group of interns were recruited in summer 2009 and were on-site for 10 weeks from 8 June - 14 August 2009. The first participants were:

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    Thomas Whelan, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

    Alim Jiwa, University of British Columbia, Canada

    Gokhan Yilmaz, Izmir University of Economics, Turkey

    Ilge Akkaya, Bilkent University, Turkey

    Kanika Poply, Dublin City University, Ireland

    Magdalena Zieneiwicz, University College Dublin, Ireland

    Wardah Inam, GIK institute of Eng. Sciences & Technology, Pakistan

    William Cully, Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland

    Aodhan Coffey, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

    Ornagh Higgins, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


Research Projects

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During their internship each SIAR student worked on a research project relating to the technological challenges associated with humanoid robotic soccer.

  • Robot Balance Using Arm Motion
  • Fast and Robust Ball Tracking System
  • Ball Detection for Robotic Soccer
  • Real-time vision Based Object Detection and Recognition
  • Robocup Game Simulation
  • Bipedal Robot Tilt Stabilization Based on Foot Pressure Feedback
  • Colour Segmentation and Object Classification
  • Line Feature Detection and Robot Localization
  • Particle Filter Based Localization of Mobile Robot for Application in Robotic Soccer

As a training exercise on research communication, the SIAR interns were asked to produce two outputs from their projects – a 4 page report in the style of a double-column conference paper and a poster for presentation at the SIAR workshop. The interns presented their posters together with demonstrations of their projects at a special workshop which was organised during week 9 of the programme. This was attended by staff and post graduates at NUIM.  Dr Michael Quinlan, a researcher at the Learning Agents Research Group at The University of Texas at Austin and a member of the International Robocup Federation Executive Committee gave an invited lecture at this workshop.


Educational and social activities

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Over the 10 weeks of the programme a variety of educational and social activities were arranged for the students. Education events included lectures on technical communication (writing, presentations etc.), conducting a literature review, good research practice, project management, research commercialisation and ethics, and tutorials/workshops on Matlab, LaTeX and the NAO robot software development platform.

Social events organised for the interns ranged from Pizza and wine evenings with the Robocup research team to trips to the Hill of Tara, guided tours of Dublin, traditional Irish music evenings, and a lunch cruise on the Grand Canal. Some of these events were arranged jointly with the UREKA sites hosted by the Biology Department at NUIM, namely PURE and SoMER.


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More photos from SIAR 2009 are available in our photo gallery

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