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RoboCupRescue - World Championship and Symposium, Graz, Austria 2009

Robots and Participants, Graz, Austria, 2009


The RoboCupRescue Robot League is an international league of teams with one objective: Develop and demonstrate advanced robotic capabilities for emergency responders using annual competitions to evaluate, and teaching camps to disseminate, best-in-class robotic solutions. 


The league hosts annual competitions to 1) increase awareness of the challenges involved in deploying robots for emergency response applications such as urban search and rescue and bomb disposal, 2) provide objective performance evaluations of mobile robots operating in complex yet repeatable environments, and 3) promote collaboration between researchers. Robot teams demonstrate their capabilities in mobility, sensory perception, localization and mapping, mobile manipulation, practical operator interfaces, and assistive autonomous behaviors to improve remote operator performance and/or robot survivability while searching for simulated victims in a maze of terrains and challenges. Winning teams must reliably perform 7-10 missions of 20-30 minutes each from various start points to find the most victims. As robots continue to demonstrate successes against the obstacles posed in the arenas, the level of difficulty will continually be increased so the arenas provide a stepping-stone from the laboratory to the real world. Meanwhile, the annual competitions provide direct comparison of robotic approaches, objective performance evaluations, and a public proving ground for capable robotic systems that will ultimately be used to save lives. 

Competition Vision  

When disaster happens, minimize risk to search and rescue personnel while increasing victim survival rates by fielding teams of collaborative mobile robots which enable human rescuers to quickly locate and extract victims. Specific robotic capabilities encouraged in the competition include the following:  

  • Negotiate compromised and collapsed structures
  • Locate victims and ascertain their conditions
  • Produce practical sensor maps of the environment
  • Establish communications with victims
  • Deliver fluids, nourishment, medicines
  • Emplace sensors to identify/monitor hazards
  • Mark or identify best paths to victims
  • Provide structural shoring for responders

These tasks are encouraged through challenges posed in the arena, specific mission tasks, and/or the performance metric. Demonstrations of other enabling robotic capabilities are always welcome.

Search Scenario

A building has partially collapsed due to earthquake. The Incident Commander in charge of rescue operations at the disaster site, fearing secondary collapses from aftershocks, has asked for teams of robots to immediately search the interior of the building for victims. The mission for the robots and their operators is to find victims, determine their situation, state, and location, and then report back their findings in a map of the building with associated victim data. The section near the building entrance appears relatively intact while the interior of the structure exhibits increasing degrees of collapse. Robots must negotiate and map the lightly damaged areas prior to encountering more challenging obstacles and rubble. The robots are considered expendable in case of difficulty.

Field Description  

The RoboCupRescue arenas constructed to host these competitions consist of emerging standard test methods for emergency response robots developed by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology through the ASTM International Committee on Homeland Security Applications; Operational Equipment; Robots (E54.08.01). They are repeatable test method apparatuses that anybody can build and practice. The competition field is divided into color-coded arenas that form a continuum of challenges with increasing levels of difficulty for robots and operators and highlight certain robotic capabilities: 

  • Simulated Victims: Simulated victims with several signs of life such as form, motion, head, sound and CO2 are distributed throughout the arenas requiring directional viewing through access holes at different elevations.
  • Yellow Arena: For robots capable of fully autonomous navigation and victim identification, this arena consists of random mazes of hallways and rooms with continuous 15° pitch and roll ramp flooring.
  • Orange Arena: For robots capable of autonomous or remote teleoperative navigation and victim identification, this arena consists of moderate terrains with crossing 15° pitch and roll ramps and structured obstacles such as stairs, inclined planes, and others.
  • Red Arena: For robots capable of autonomous or remote teleoperative navigation and victim identification, this arena consists of complex stepfield terrains requiring advanced robot mobility.
  • Blue Arena: For robots capable of mobile manipulation on complex terrains to place simple block or bottle payloads carried in from the start or picked up within the arenas.
  • Black/Yellow Arena (RADIO DROP-OUT ZONE): For robots capable of autonomous navigation with reasonable mobility to operate on complex terrains.
  • Black Arena (Vehicle Collapse Scenario): For robots capable of searching a simulated vehicle collapse scenario accessible on each side from the RED ARENA and the ORANGE ARENA.
  • Aerial Arena (< 2 KG, VTOL sUAS): For small unmanned aerial systems under 2 kg with vertical take-off and landing capabilities that can perform station-keeping, obstacle avoidance, and line following tasks with varying degrees of autonomy.
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  • Adam Jacoff, National Institute of Standards and Technology, USA (Trustee/League Chair 2012-2015)
  • Oskar von Stryk, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany ((Trustee/League Chair 2011-2014)
  • Satoshi Tadokoro, Tohoku University, Japan (Trustee Emeritus)

Executive Committee

  • Johannes Pellenz, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany (Exec 2013-2016)
  • Tetsuya Kimura, Nagaoka Univ. of Technology, Japan (Exec 2011-2014)
  • Ehsan Mihankhah, K.N. Toosi University of Technology, Iran (Exec 2012-2015)
  • Jackrit Suthakorn, Mahidol University, Thailand (Exec 2011-2014)
  • Andreas Birk, International University Bremen, Germany (Exec Emeritus)

Technical Committee

  • Gerald Steinbauer, Austria (TC 2012-2015)
  • Jafar Chegini, Iran (TC 2011-2014)
  • Sören Schwertfeger, Germany (TC 2011-2014)
  • Raymond Sheh, Australia (TC 2013-2016)

Organizing Committee

  • Fernando Sobreira, Brazil (Local Chair 2014)
  • Ann Marie Virts, National Institute of Standards and Technology, USA (OC Chair 2011-2016)
  • Raymond Sheh, Australia (OC 2013-2016)
  • Amir H. Soltanzadeh, Iran (OC 2013-2015)