The Falcons showed significant steps towards maturity at the Portuguese Open 2017. This year’s European championship featured a total of seven teams in the Middle Size League robot soccer competition. With surpassing their rival Carpe Noctem and claiming the third podium spot for themselves, the Falcons can look back on a very successful tournament.

Since the last World Championships in July, the team has shown sustained effort to improve both the hardware and software for the six soccer robots. For instance, a new world model (which keeps track of known objects on the field) has been developed, featuring enhanced localization and tracking of the robots, ball and obstacles. As the robots also drive more precisely, they are now able to properly pass the ball to each other autonomously. This proved necessary indeed, as a recently introduced rule obliges the robots to do at least one pass before being allowed to score.

Armed with these upgrades, the Falcons were able to reach the semifinals, leaving several other teams behind. However, a loss to the established number one and three in the world was inevitable. "The robots already proved to be a better match compared to the previous tournaments. We were able to stop a lot more shots on goal than before and see fewer collisions with other robots. We also used the opportunity to experiment with new functionality, such as lob shots.” said Jaap, the Falcon’s team captain.

Yet the ultimate showdown for the team was the match against rival Carpe Noctem from Kassel, Germany. Last year, long-time player Carpe Noctem was able to secure a third place at the tournament in favor of the Falcons during the European Open, but that had been a very close call.

This time the roles were reversed. Unable to cope with the changing light conditions and without being able to properly handle the ball, Carpe Noctem tried to interrupt the Falcons' play with fast driving and obstructing paths towards the goal. Although this proved successful in the beginning, the Falcons managed to win both games with a convincing 2-0, securing a well-deserved third place in the competition.