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The world’s biggest annual robotics event is coming to Sydney in June 2019, with hundreds of robots due to descend on Australia to battle it out for one of the coveted RoboCup world trophies. Up to $7 million will be injected into the Australian economy.

The RoboCup International Symposium and World Championship, one of the world's leading technology events, will be held in Sydney following a successful bid by Business Events Sydney (BESydney) and partners including UNSW, RoboCupJunior Australia (a high school competition circuit) and Bastion Collective.

RoboCup aims  – by 2050 – to field a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots capable of defeating the World Cup-winning squad in a match governed by FIFA’s official rules.


One of the UNSW Nao robots watching on as kids play on the lawns of UNSW.

“This is the ‘space race’ of robotics,” said Maurice Pagnucco, Deputy Dean (Education) in Engineering and Head of the School of Computer Science and Engineering at UNSW, and a noted expert in artificial intelligence and cognitive robotics. 

“Competition pushes advances in technologies. What we learn from robots playing soccer or navigating a maze can be applied to industry and help us solve difficult real-world problems,” he added. “The same vision system developed by UNSW for RoboCup is now being used to track the hands of workers in a saw mill, to ensure the machinery avoids causing injuries.”

More than 2,000 researchers and innovators from 50 nations will be in Sydney for RoboCup events that extend to search-and-rescue, caregiving assistance and other real-world scenarios.

“RoboCup brings the best of the best in robotics to our shores to debate, discover and drive our future. Over six days, up to 600 teams will compete in front of 20,000 spectators,” said Ms Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of BESydney. “RoboCup is developing the skills that will be needed for the jobs of the future and it’s testament to our own local talent that this leading event has chosen Sydney as its host.”


Maurice Pagnucco, Head of the School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales; Sean Harris, UNSW RoboCup team leader; and Ms Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of BESydney with one of the UNSW Nao robots at the announcement.

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, welcomed the win. “RoboCup will be a major event for Sydney and will be another way to spark interest nationally in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects that are so important to preparing young people for work in a rapidly-changing world.”

NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Mary O'Kane, confirmed her support for BESydney’s efforts to win the event, which will profile NSW’s international leadership in robotics. "NSW is a leader in robotics research globally, particularly in large-scale field robotics and autonomous systems. The state also has considerable strength in artificial intelligence.

“Australian universities have been enthusiastic participants and supporters of RoboCup, competing in the event every year since its inception in 1997," she added. "The UNSW team has enjoyed great success – crowned world champions more times than any other team. Bringing RoboCup to Sydney will significantly boost the profile of robotics here. Perhaps more importantly, it will pique the interest of our children, their parents and teachers in the fields of maths and science, which is tremendously important,"

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor, Ian Jacobs, is delighted Sydney will play host in four years. “In July 2015, the UNSW team became the Standard Platform League Robocup World Champions, defeating Germany to win back-to-back world titles. We look forward to competing again in 2019 on home soil, showcasing the outstanding capabilities of UNSW’s computer science and engineering students.”

In 2019 RoboCup will be held at International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) with a number of events also held around the Darling Harbour foreshore.

Background on the RoboCup World Championship

The event draws spectators from many top technology companies such as Google, Microsoft and Dell. RoboCup Soccer, has five leagues, of which the most hotly contested is the Standard Platform League, where teams use identical robots but rely on their own software to win. Teams concentrate on the development of AI software that drives the robots, rather than the mechanics of the robots themselves. In this league, UNSW has won a record five world titles, including the last two back-to-back.

In all leagues, robots operate fully autonomously, with no remote control by either humans or computers during games.