The World Cup In Retrospect

Even though our last article was a while ago, a lot has happened. After the group phase we were eliminated from the regular competition of the world cup in a match against Rhoban from France.
We were more successful in the Drop-In Challenge: because of our stable goal keeper we managed to finish in the 4. place.

Afterwards we supported our collaboration partners in the team WF Wolves from Wolfenbüttel, who played in the TeenSize League. They finished the group phase in the third place and thus got directly to the semi final. There we cooperatively lost against the team Ichiro from Indonesia. The match for the third place against the Nubots from Australia ended in a penalty shootout which we unfortunately lost. In the Drop-In Challenge in the TeenSize League we were more successful and managed to finish in third place.

In the KidSize League Rhoban has managed to become World  Cup champion for the third time. In the TeenSize League Ichiro became the World Cup champion for the ninth time.

After the competition many members of our team spent a few more days in Canada before we went back to Hamburg. In the near future we plan to extend our cooperation with the Wolves. In September they will visit us and we will play test games and work together on scientific papers.

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FØld – now available

[originally written by:
 
The last two days were accompanied with intense preparations: At 8:00 AM we arrived at the exhibition on saturday, in order to prepare our tables, repair our robots, which were slightly damaged during the flight, and, as we mentioned in the previous article, to record some images for our vision.
 
Unfortunately, when we arrived, we had to face an unpleaseant surprise: The registration was not prepared yet, so we got to stand in line, and wait. And wait. Some time later the organizers decided to let us in without the registration (and our badges) for now. The registration was postponed to some time later.
 
This inconvenience was promptly followed by another minor problem: Apparently, the organizers had a slightly different idea on what the term “Setup Days” is supposed to mean. Usually, the setup days are used to prepare the robots and adjust them to the different circumstances at the venue. This year, however, they were also used to set up the hall: Apart from the junior league (for schools/pupils), no league was completely prepared yet. In our league, there was nothing except for the wooden foundation for the fields. Everything else was scattered around. There were not even chairs yet! The organizers did not seem to be able to provide enough manpower to fix this soon, therefore we decided to DIY our fields (as known from this swedish furniture store). Except there was no manual this time. Likewise to products bought from said furniture store, there also were parts missing. Nonetheless, we made up a humanoid-league setup team and took matters in our own hands. This meant we had to lay the grass field, place the markings and perform several other tasks on our own. Especially team Rhoban pulled out all the stops. It still took us until the end of the second setup day to finish all fields. The TC (technical committee) and EC (executive committee) usually are very busy during setup, even without these circumstances, so it came to no surprise when many decisions and announcments about the competition were delayed while coordinating the setup.
 
One event during the preparation time before the world cup seems to take its revenge now: Pressure from the outside forced the whole local committee to be exchanged, leaving almost every position with someone inexperienced.  
The organizers are mostly experienced in the junior leagues only and the required materials and man hours were vastly misjudged. Especially severe, as the participation fee for the world cup is not minor and thus setup infrastructure and prepared fields would be expected.
Daniel Polani (President of the RoboCup Federation) at the Opening Ceremony

When the world championship was officially started with the opening ceremony on sunday, the president of the RoboCup federation found proper words when he thanked the attending teams for their effort in setting up the required materials and fields.

We are confident that this kind of chaos will not occur again at future RoboCup competitions, because the RoboCup federation will hopefully find ways and means to to support future organizers and demand better terms for the teams.
Marc checks the walking

Regardless of all that, our team, of course, also worked on our robots and software. Seeing how our robots walked was great, because of how stable it is compared to last year. They are now able to walk all across the field without any trouble. On the first setup day, Marc was the first to put a robot onto the field. Accompanied by astonishment from the whole team, the robot just strolled across the field. He was not even bothered by any twists and turns or a side step. What a difference to last year! This strongly contributed to the motivation of our team. A lot of work over the last year went into our vision and ball detection, which also has paid off. We were also able to demonstrate our ImageTagger to other teams and make it attractive to them. The paper that was written about the ImageTagger by Niklas, Marc, and Norman Hendrich was also accepted for the RoboCup Symposium (a short conference ensuing the RoboCup). Other than that, we are working on all kinds of small problems and are looking forward to the rest of the RoboCup.

 
Setting up the team table
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RoboCup WM 2018 in Montreal – The arrival

It’s unbelievable but almost a year has passed since the last world championship in Japan has ended and the world championship in Montreal, Canada, is just around the corner! This year, the schedule is a little unusual: The set-up days are Saturday and Sunday and the regular tournament doesn’t start until Monday.

Like last year the arrival of the team members happened in chunks: Jessica has already arrived yesterday and used the day to explore the city. Everyone else traveled today: Maike’s flight from Stockholm left at 06:05, Judith, Jasper, Marc, Timon, Niklas and Daniel left Hamburg around 10:10. They re-united in Paris and started the last (and biggest) part of the journey from Paris to Montreal with significant delay, but together. The flight was mostly used to work a little on the software, meet new teams and catch up with some sleep. The airport in Montreal was then firmly in the hands of the RoboCup community: Flights from Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt arrived nearly simultaneously and brought almost all European RoboCup teams to Canada at the same time.

We then made the first experience with the famous Canadian kindness during the trip from the airport to our accommodation. People here are incredible accommodating and you don’t even need to ask for help, you’ll frequently get kind offers of help. Then again everything is very coordinated here: The shuttle buses from the airport had an “instructor” who decided how many people could board the bus. This amount was strictly determined by the amount of seats and luggage space available. What a difference compared to Japan where people got payed to push as many people as possible into one train!

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View towards Convention Center and river

We have rented a small apartment a little outside the city center this year. This makes the travel to the competition venue a little longer. However, it also means we are all staying together, we can have breakfast whenever we want, we can cook dinner together (if we have the time) – and of course work as long and as much at night as we want! The first arrival at our apartment was surprisingly unpleasant: The code for the front door was wrong and of course none of us had a Canadian SIM card or data roaming available. Luckily the landlord randomly came by after a little while and the short drama had a quick and happy ending.  The rest of the evening was used for a short grocery shopping trip and a quick dinner. Now most team members are already asleep, which is no wonder since it’s already 5 AM in Germany.

Tomorrow morning the competition hall will open at 8 AM and of course we want to be among the first to enter. We hope to record some images to train our vision and adapt our walking algorithm to the local turf right away. Much has changed since the last world championship, both when it comes to the software and hardware. The level of motivation in the team is higher than it has been for a long time and thus we’re all looking very much forward to the beginning of RoboCup 2018 tomorrow!

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Convention Center, Palais des congrès de Montréal Robocup 2018

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Our new robot for our vision!

We have a new robot.
It has been built completely by us. It sadly does not quite adhere to the rules of our league, because it is not humanoid. It can not even move by it self. It can only move its head.
He is not designed to play in our league though. We wanted a robot that is not complex to use it to generate images for our Imagetagger or to test our vision algorithms. In this robot only three actuators are used. Usually our robots only have two actuators for the head, but with the third actuator we are able to gain another degree of freedom for the head. This allows us the bring the head in a sidewards leaning position. This is not necessary for our robots in a game, but they still move the head in the same way in a normal game, because for example the way they walk. This robot allows us to capture pictures with this in mind and have even more realistic pictures.
The few actuators also allow us to not be dependant on any other parts of the robot and thus reduce the complexity for our use case. We also do not need to use a robot while testing or calibrating and we can work at the same time on our robots that are allowed to play.
Another feature is the height adjustable pole which allows us to take pictures from the perspective of many different robots.

Even though this robot is very simple, it still opens up many new possibilities for our vision.

 

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Iran Open 2018: Aftermath

The IranOpens are over and everything is back to normal again. Time for us to look back at the last few weeks and draw some conclusions: Many of our modules have been used for the first time and we could gladly see, that most of them worked even better than we expected them to do under real life circumstances.

Our new vision and walking algorithms perfectly work together with older modules and brought us some very successful plays. We found and removed many huge and tiny mistakes and bugs, that existed undetected for a long time. The exchange with the other teams broadened our horizont, gave us the possibility to discuss human-league problems, inspired us to new ideas and let us make new friends. Last but not least, this years IranOpen was the first chance for three of our members to experience working at a RoboCup competition.

Of course, we also realized what doesn’t work that well yet and we are working on fixing these problems as soon as possible. We are mainly focusing on getting our new robots to work, so that we can run four robots at the same time for the world championship, which draws nearer and nearer. We are looking forward to see our robots score some goals.

All in all the competition was a huge success and lets us confidently work towards the world championship.

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Iran Open 2018: Knockout Games

Our last day started as chaotically as we already anticipated it to be: 10 minutes before our semifinals-game was supposed to start, the exhibition halls doors were still locked. As the referees and the TC didn’t show up on time aswell, luckily we still had enough time to prepare.

Playing against Rhoban was a challenge, as always, but with our vision working perfectly and optimized walking algorithms we did pretty good. A few minutes before the game was over chaos took over once again: Due to unknown reasons the power was cut and therefor all game events stored in the Gamecontroller were lost. The referees and the TC took some time to deliberate about what to do now and then decided to continue the game anyways.

In the end Rhoban beat us, leaving us on the third place out of eight competitors. The first place goes to MRL-HSL.

After the games were over, we had some time to visit a temple with some members of Rhoban and ZJUDancer, and to show them around on the bazaar. The rest of the day was used to attend the very exciting closing ceremony. After the banquette, where we could once again talk and joke with our – sometimes long known, sometimes new – friends, it was already time to say goodbye.

13 hours of flight later, completely exhausted but very very happy, Hamburg had us back. We won’t have much time to rest on our success, though. The world championship is getting closer and today the lab was as crowded as always again.

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Iran Open 2018: Second Group Phase

Today began as early as the days before. Our first game against MRL-HSL was scheduled for 8:30 AM. Until then we still had to fix some hardware components. As we were working on our code until late in the night, one could see our exhaustion in our faces. Nonetheless we played a good game, which, unfortunately ended in a loss, but proved that our hard work during the last days was a success.

Our robots fell very badly during the game, damaging parts of our hardware beyond repair and causing major problems during our second game. Therefor Frankenbot now inherited Minibots arm aswell, making him more and more a patchwork-beast. Between the other teams, Frankenbot made himself a name as “Killer” or “Terminator” and is well known. Because there is one thing we could prove during the last days: We are very good at not getting tipped over.

In our free time after the games we went out to explore Teheran. We bought lots of food, spices and sweets at the bazaar and visited a mosque nearby.

During our third game the hardware problems lingered. By now everything seems to be working again and we hope, our robots won’t get hurt again tomorrow.

After the games we had some time to talk to the other teams. We introduced our ImageTagger to the other teams, Rhoban held an interesting presentation about decisionmaking processes during goalshots and ZJUDancer and MRL-HSL showed a part of their works aswell.

We are now making our last preparations for our semifinal-game against Rhoban. We are curious to see the outcome.

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Iran Open 2018: First Group Phase

The first match day is coming to an end. Our enemies being three of the four bestplaced teams in last years world championship, our competition couldn’t be much tighter: We’ve got to face MRL-HSL, Rhoban and ZJUDancer. Especially Rhoban demonstrated clever teamplay and clean goalshots with their three robots and beat all three enemies. The other two teams played very good aswell, leading to many exciting moments. Even though we lost all three of our games today, we made great advances aswell: For the first time since our big hardware modifications we are able to walk long distances again. Our ball recognition works perfectly and huge parts of our behaviour are already functioning normally.

Playing against some of the best teams in our league was a good oportunity for us to learn. The knowledge exchange between the teams and the games provide great insights into new tactics and different gamemoves, many of which we are looking forward to try out. The huge amount of games also provides lots of data for our image tagger under realistic conditions.

The hardware wasn’t working in our favour today, and so Frankenbot happened to lose a leg – just a few minutes before our last game was about to start. Luckily the damage could be repaired quite easily. Unfortunately we needed one spare part, that we couldn’t replace. So we had to remove it from the other Minibot, which means, that we can only use one of them for the rest of the competition. At least we can focus our work on that one now.

We are now working on fixing the behaviour completely and optimizing some parts, in order to get better results in our next games.

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IranOpen 2018: Setup Days

With loads of luggage and close to no sleep we finally arrived in Teheran. We didn’t get much time to rest, because just two hours after the arrival at our hotel we had to depart to the venue and begin with the setup.

Everything seems to be a bit more organized in comparison to our experiences in the last years. Just a few hours later we actually had power and internet access, and we could begin our preparations. Lucky for us, as there were lots of things to be done: Besides having to prepare our two Minibots, this year for the first time we bring two new participants to the IranOpen. While we expect the two new robots, produced by the WF Wolves, to improve our performance, the new platform also brings some new difficulties with it.

By now the damages caused by the flight are fixed and our software is on a good way to be up and running by tomorrow morning. Our robots have been measured and this year we also got a (very brief) referee training. We will now use the rest of the day to keep working on our software, so that we will be ready for our first game tomorrow at 8:30 AM. We can’t wait to see what the following days will bring.

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Hamburg Bit-Bots at University Day

On tuesday, the 20th of February, the annual University Day took place at the UHH. While we couldn’t participate last year, due to the foyers being closed down, this year we could demonstrate our robots and inspire young students to study a computer sience related topic.

Interested students had the chance to steer a robot themselves. Even though Tamara (one of our Darwin-OP robots) usually works autonomously and makes her own decisions, this time we decided to put a leash on, or rather a controller.

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