UC MERCED TAKES 2ND IN ROBOT EVENT: The University of California at Merced recently placed second in an international "RoboCup," beating out powerhouses such as Carnegie Mellon University. The team took second in the final rescue simulation virtual robot event. Team leader Professor Stefano Carpin and graduate student Benjamin Balaguer made up the team, with Balaguer traveling to China to compete. Competitors in the Virtual Robot event design software to allow a team of partially autonomous robots to provide useful information for first responders in the aftermath of a disaster. Using the simulator allows researchers to study how rescue robots can work together, bypassing the expense that would be involved in purchasing or building teams of real robots. Ten teams from eight countries participated in the virtual robots competition. The winner was the SEU-RedSun team from Southeast University in Nanjing, China. Third place went to Carnegie Mellon. RoboCup is the largest international robotic competition. Every year, thousands of participants organized in hundred of teams compete against each other. The events are organized around three themes -- soccer, rescue and domestic robots. For more information about robotics research at UC Merced, see http://robotics.ucmerced.edu.