Preparation days and first matches

The RoboCup started for us with successful preparation days on Tuesday and Wednesday. Already in the first hour after entering the event hall, our first robot stood on the field and successfully took its first steps. Since a lot of effort of the AG, especially by our PhD student Marc, went into improving the walking and making it more robust last year, we had to make almost no adjustments to cross the field at top speed of 25cm/s. At the same time, preparations continued in the rest of the software. We configured and stabilized the stand-up, which usually does not work well in new environments because it has to be adapted to the robots and the grass in the field. We also developed a new component for our behavior: Since we currently can’t shoot the ball reliably, we decided to just dribble instead. Of course, this had to be practiced diligently. We also tested our localization. Localization is the part of the robot software that uses the lines recognized by our image recognition system to determine where it is on the playing field. Since that didn’t work reliably yet, we initially decided not to use the localization and just dribble the ball towards the goal.
On Thursday, the games started at nine in the morning. As usual, RoboCup starts with the so-called drop-in games. In these games, five robots compete against five robots, the special feature being that all the robots come from different teams. So the goal is for the robots to try to cooperate with other robots while playing. However, this generally doesn’t work very well and led to a lot of chaos on Thursday.
Things were a bit more structured in the afternoon during the first games of the group phase. This RoboCup has the peculiarity that there are not only one, but two group phases, with the results of the first group phase determining the distribution of groups for the second phase. In our first games, we already had all four robots ready to go and could see them running on the field at the same time. This in itself is a peculiarity in RoboCup, where the robots, which frequently fall and lose parts, need constant repair. Even though we didn’t manage to score a goal yet, we were able to defend our own goal a few times and keep the opponents from scoring. In the evening we played a short friendly match against the multiple world champion and this year’s RoboCup organizer “Rhoban” from Bordeaux. The game was also filmed by the TV station Arte and used for TV footage from RoboCup.
On Friday, after the end of the first group phase, there was a deciding match between us and the other German RoboCup team from Wolfenbüttel. The match was very nerve-wracking, as our two teams have been working together for a long time and know each other well, and of course neither team wanted to lose to the other. The game was finally decided in a penalty shootout, where we won with a final score of 5-3.
However, we and the robots were not allowed much rest, because already twenty minutes later the next game against the Chinese team TH-MOS was scheduled. Directly after that there was another match against the NUBots from Newcastle, Australia, which ended our second group stage. Both games went 0-0 and we eagerly watched the match between our two opponents to see if we would advance to the quarterfinals. The NUBots then lost the game, which means that we and TH-MOS still get to play on. Our next game will then be on Saturday in the quarterfinals against the CIT Brains. The Japanese team is the reigning world champion – so we don’t expect to win against them. Of course, that won’t stop us from doing our best and making more improvements in our software.
Apart from the games, RoboCup also consists of other aspects, especially the exchange with other teams. We like to take the opportunity to have the teams from all over the world in close proximity and exchange ideas about problems and their solutions, look at each other’s robots and fantasize about improvements to ours or analyze the other teams’ games together from the sidelines. The whole thing was even supported on Thursday evening by provided buffet, cheese, wine and French quark balls. We are looking forward to more opportunities to exchange ideas with other teams in the coming days and also at the Symposium, the scientific conference on RoboCup, which will take place on Monday.


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