European Robotics League uses Edinburgh test bed for first time

Edinburgh, 7 March 2018


A recent robot competition was the first European Robotics League Service Robots (ERL-SR) tournament to be held in Edinburgh in the UK, and the first to use a recently-certified ERL-SR test bed at the local Heriot-Watt University.

The new Robotic Assisted Living Laboratory test-bed at Heriot-Watt is a ‘living-lab’ home-like environment for the design and testing of robotics for healthy ageing and independent living.

The event, on 22–26 January 2018, was the third local tournament in the ERL-SR 2017–18 season's competition and attracted teams from Bristol in the UK, Koblenz in Germany and Barcelona in Spain.

The three teams, with a total of 11 members, were:

HEARTS, Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), UK

HOMER, University of Koblenz-Landau, Koblenz, Germany

IRL@ERL, Institut de Robòtica i Informàtica Industrial, CSIC-UPC, Barcelona, Spain

The challenges for the teams, against the clock, included understanding natural speech and finding and retrieving objects. The robots also had to greet visitors at the door appropriately, such as by welcoming a visiting doctor and turning away unwanted visitors.

The teams' technical approaches could find their way into future commercial robots providing assistive care, typically to people with age-related impairments or disabilities, thus helping people to remain independent for longer. The advanced systems and techniques used by ERL competition teams, typically for voice and face recognition, could also be suitable for a wide range of non-care uses in all areas of life.

For the recent tournament, MEng students at Heriot-Watt modified the ERL-SR benchmarking software to interface it with the smart home middleware used in the laboratory. The changes may be incorporated in the next version of the ERL-SR benchmarking software.

The following task benchmarks (TBMs) and functionality benchmarks (FBMs) were tested:

TBM1: Getting to know my home

TBM2: Welcoming visitors

TBM3: Catering for granny Annie's comfort

TBM4: Visit my home

TBM5: General-purpose service robot (shared with RoboCup@Home)

FBM3: Speech recognition

For each benchmark, the five best runs were counted for each team and the final score for each team and benchmark was the median of the scores.

ERL-SR teams participate in a minimum of two local or major tournaments per year. Teams are ranked on their end-of-year scores for TBMs and FBMs, using the best two participations in tournaments. The latest ERL-SR scores can be found here: erl-service/scoring-and-standings/index.html.

The ERL-SR winners for the 2017–18 season will be announced at the European Robotics Forum (ERF), to be held in Tampere in Finland on 13–15 March 2018. Winners of the ERL Industry Robot (ERL-IR) and ERL Emergency Robot (ERL-IR) competitions will also be announced.

The ERL-ER prizes for task challenges were awarded during the Awards Ceremony for the emergency robots competition held at Piombino, Italy on 15-23 September 2017. The ERL-ER prizes for functional challenges will be awarded at an ERF Gala Dinner on 14 March 2018.




Organiser contact

Dr. Mauro Dragone
Assistant Professor

Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems
School of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Edinburgh Centre for Robotics

Heriot-Watt University


EH14 4AS


Phone: +44 (0)131 451 3325

Team contacts

Bristol Robotics Laboratory


University of Koblenz-Landau, Koblenz, Germany



Institut de Robòtica i Informàtica Industrial, CSIC-UPC, Barcelona, Spain



Notes for editors

Edinburgh organisation

The ERL-SR event at Heriot-Watt was organised by Mauro Dragone, from the Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems at the School of Engineering and Physical Science, Heriot-Watt University, with undergraduate students and postgraduate researchers, and with support from Meysam Basiri and Pedro Lima from the Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal, Enrico Piazza from the Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy, and Luca Iocchi, from the University of Rome La Sapienza.

European Robotics League
The European Robotics League (ERL) is the successor to the RoCKIn, euRathlon and EuRoC robotics competitions, funded by the EU and designed to foster scientific progress and innovation in cognitive systems and robotics. The ERL is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and runs competitions for service (ERL-SR), industrial (ERL-IR) and emergency robots (ERL-ER). See:
The latest ERL-SR scores can be found here: erl-service/scoring-and-standings/index.html

The latest ERL-IR scores can be found here: erl-industry/scoring-and-standings/index.html

The latest ERL-ER scores can be found here: erl-emergency/scoring-and-standings/index.html

The ERL is part of the SPARC public-private partnership set up by the European Commission and the euRobotics association to extend Europe’s leadership in civilian robotics. SPARC’s €700 million of funding from the Commission in 2014–0 is being combined with €1.4 billion of funding from European industry. See:

euRobotics is a European Commission-funded non-profit organisation which promotes robotics research and innovation for the benefit of Europe's economy and society. It is based in Brussels and has more than 250 member organisations. See: