FIRA HuroCup Competition

Team Uniforms

Team Uniforms 2012-2014

The Federation of International Robot-Soccer Association (FIRA) HuroCup (HUmanoid RObot Cup) competition is one of the oldest humanoid robotics competitions in the world. It competes somewhat directly with RoboCup for participants.

Unlike RoboCup, HuroCup is not limited to soccer/football events; HuroCup challenges competitors to create versatile, well-rounded humanoid robots that can compete in a variety of events without modification.

During my tenure as a student in the Autonomous Agents Lab I competed in four HuroCup competitions, located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Brisol, UK; Shah Alam, Malaysia; and Beijing, China.


A montage of competition footage from FIRA 2011


Victory 2013

World champions in 2013

Below is a list of awards we won at the four HuroCup competitions I attended. Students who travelled to the competitions with me are noted in parentheses.


The marathon event undergoes regular changes every year at FIRA. It is the only outdoor event, and as such requires more robust vision, able to adapt to changing lighting conditions.

For the actual competition, a track is laid down with tape (later years added breaks in the tape and arrows to indicate turns). The robot must follow the tape, staying within 50cm of it at all times. Handlers may touch the robot, but at the cost of a 3-5m penalty.

Practicing the marathon in the hallways of UofM (2013)

Jeff racing in the marathon at TIROS 2011 (just after FIRA)

Jeff competing in a relay marathon (and breaking the tape!) at TIROS 2011


The sprint competition is one of the most popular events at FIRA, both for its relatively low barrier to entry, and the crowd-pleasing nature of seeing a dozen robots all on the field at the same time, racing head-to-head.

Robots must run 3m forwards, completely cross the line, and then walk 3m backwards across the start line, all while staying within their lane. Leaving the lane or failure to completely cross the first line requires a manual re-start on the starting line.

Grand finals for the sprint at FIRA 2013

Round 1, Heat 1 of the sprint at FIRA 2013

Round 2, Head 3 of the sprint at FIRA 2013


The climbing event underwent a major rewrite for the 2013 FIRA competition. Prior to 2013 the robot had to scale a vertical wall with randomly-placed, red wooden pegs sticking out of it as hand-holds. In 2013 the competition was rewritten to use a 45-degree inclined ladder with evenly-spaced rungs. (For 2014 the run spacing was made variable and a climbing rope was added to the end.)

Climbing an unevenly-spaced ladder in the lab (2014)

Jimmy's gold medal-winning climb from 2013

We were the only team to successfully make it to the top of the ladder this year

Climbing practice in the lab with the robot's PoV (2013)

More climbing practice in the lab (2013)


In the weightlifting event the robot must pick up a bar loaded with CDs and carry it at waist height for 50cm. The robot must then stop with at least part of one foot touching the midway line and lift the bar over its head, before continuing to walk another 50cm across the finish line. The robot is disqualified if it walks outside the field, if it falls over, or if it executes the lift without touching the midline.

Jimmy's gold medal-winning lift from FIRA 2013

Derek works on the weightlifting at FIRA 2011

Obstacle Course

The obstacle course event is fairly self-explanatory. A course is made using coloured obstacles (blue walls, raised red gates, yellow "holes") and the robot must navigate through the course and cross the finish line without touching any obstacles.

A total of five different courses are laid out, with the robot completing the most courses in the least time declared the winner.

The snobots competing in the 2013 obstacle course

The Snobots successfully complete an obstacle course in 2011

AiRobot from Taiwan competing in an obstacle course in 2011

Multiple robots attempt the same course in 2011


For the basketball event the robot must pick up the ball (optionally using a stick or other holder to raise the ball), and either throw or place the ball in the basket. Throwing from beyond the dashed line is worth 3 points. Other baskets are worth 2 points. During the entire trial the robot is not allowed to touch the basket itself.

Complete basketball practice run at TIROS 2011 (just after FIRA)

Complete basketball trial at FIRA 2011, robot's PoV (2011)

Our first test making Jeff throw a ball (2011)

Range and accuracy test with the throw (2011)

Grabbing the ball and throwing (2011)

Grabbing the ball and throwing with robot's PoV (2011)

Penalty Kick

The penalty kick event is a slightly more complex version of a standard soccer penalty kick. The ball starts on the penalty spot and the robot must maneuver the ball between three blue obstacles and into the 18-yard box, but outside the crease. Once the ball is in a valid position, the robot may kick the ball into the net, which is defended by a static goalie.

The penalty kick event was removed from HuroCup after the 2013 games and replaced completely with United Soccer. (United Soccer itself had been introduced at the 2012 competition, meaning both events were present in 2012 and 2013 competitions.)

A successful penalty kick from FIRA 2013

A failed penalty kick from FIRA 2013

A penalty kick from 2011

United Soccer

United Soccer was added as a new event for the 2012 FIRA competition. Robots from different universities are combined into random teams (teams are shuffled for every match) and play soccer against each other. Scoring is based on team performance as well as individual ability.

Unfortunately, I don't have any video of the United Soccer competitions, though it is superficially similar to RoboCup.

The United Soccer competition at FIRA 2014 in Beijing

The United Soccer competition at FIRA 2012 in Bristol