Virginia Tech and U. Penn, who've teamed up in past years to compete in the RoboCup humanoid soccer league, just had a repeat performance in the KidSize competition, beating CIT Brains in the finals for the second year in a row. Mexico City played host to the games this year, which included competitions for home, rescue, and industrial robots outside of the traditional soccer matches — for more background on the tournament and bots, we covered the annual RoboCup competition and Virginia Tech's Dennis Hong in detail last year. Team DARwIn's joint-developed DARwIn OP had to compete against a much-improved humanoid field this year — bolstered mostly by other DARwIn OPs models oddly enough. After its success last year at RoboCup, the robot — commercialized by Robotis — has been selling like crazy, and about a third of the KidSize teams at RoboCup this year were using it. Still, Team DARwIn managed to win with ease, beating CIT 8-2.

Albert managed a perfect technical score by throwing a soccer ball, navigating obstacles, and passing

Virginia Tech's CHARLI-2 bot also won in the AdultSize soccer league, 3-0 over Tsinghua Hephaestus from Japan — a team that had beaten them earlier in the competition. Team DARwIn also competed in the TeenSize league this year, using the brand new DARwIn XOS bot, but didn't do as well. TeenSize was dominated instead by Universität Bonn's NimBro bots, which beat CIT Brains 6-3. Bonn's newest NimBro, nicknamed "Albert" for his shock white hair, also took the Louis Vuitton Humanoid Cup for "Best Humanoid," a prize CHARLI-2 won last year. Outside of winning at soccer with a fast walk and strong kicks, Albert managed a perfect score in its technical challenges this year, including throwing a soccer ball, navigating obstacles, and passing. The robot is also one of the first TeenSize bots that's capable of picking itself up from a fall.

Next year's RoboCup is slated to take place in the Netherlands, and will offer new challenges for the humanoids, including 4v4 KidSize games on a larger field. Bonn is also working on a TeenSize open platform to help boost that competition, which had only four participants this year.

Editor's note: Paul's offline travels have taken him to Mexico City, where he's reporting on RoboCup 2012.