When I think RoboCup, autonomous robots kicking soccer balls indoors is the first image that springs to mind. But there’s a lot more behind RoboCup than I realized.
RoboCup aims to use RoboCupSoccer to create a fully autonomous team of humanoid robots that can beat the human World Cup champion soccer team by 2050. But using the technologies originally developed for this challenge to essentially contribute to society is the main goal behind RoboCup. The organization developed RoboCup-Rescue to use RoboCup technologies in assisting search-and-rescue teams during large-scale disasters. RoboCup cites the Great Hanshi-Awaji earthquake in Kobe City, Japan as the "trigger" for RoboCup-Rescue. The organization has since developed urban search and rescue (USAR) robot competitions and a rescue simulation league aimed at emulating disaster phenomena.
RoboCup-Rescue focuses on several levels of disaster management – everything from teamwork coordination to, of course, actual autonomous robots for search and rescue. And the organization’s efforts have spawned related competitions including the Virtual Robots Competition, where participants actually simulate robotic behavior and The ALADDIN Project, aimed at dealing with coordinating the autonomous robots and using sensors to gather readings for uncertain disaster situations.