RoboCup shines spotlight on Toyota, SoftBank tech

Toyota Motor and SoftBank Group have been selected to provide standard platforms for a home-use robot competition at the RoboCup starting next year.

The 2016 edition of RoboCup, best known for its Soccer match, concluded Monday. The international event is aimed at advancing robotics technology through competition.

The RoboCup federation has selected the HSR, or Human Support Robot, developed by Toyota as well as the Pepper created by SoftBank Robotics as the standard hardware for the RoboCup@Home competition. This will likely spur research labs around the world to develop software for the robots. Their name recognition will rise, potentially leading to more orders. The designation, which could help the two robots become the de facto industrial standard for home-assist robots, is expected to last about three years.

SoftBank Robotics has its origins in French company Aldebaran Robotics, developer of the Nao, which was used in the soccer match in 2006. Competing to develop ways of moving the Nao, robotics researchers worldwide have contributed to enhancing the robot’s capabilities. That fact was not lost on SoftBank when it acquired Aldebaran. The Pepper humanoid companion robot was commercialized in 2015.

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