German Open 2024

Bitbots win first price

From April 17 to April 20, 2024, the first German Open (GO) since 2019 took place in Kassel. Naturally, we participated with our robots again. We set off for Kassel on April 16. Most of us (Laura, Jörn, Jan-Niklas, Jan, and Lea) took the train, which was about an hour late. Timon and Flo had better luck with a rental car, including the robots and other competition equipment, and welcomed us at our accommodation with a warm meal.

Satisfied, we played a billiard match (as there was a large billiard table in the living room) and then jumped into bed. The next day, we headed to the fair early. First, we set up our workspace, unpacked the robots, and took a tour of the venue. Afterward, we diligently worked on previously discussed tasks related to both software and hardware, which were always visible in the form of labeled notes.

The first day of the GO, also known as Set-Up Day, is primarily for setting up and acclimating the robots to the new environment. Accordingly, we adjusted the “mental model” of our robots regarding the field size. There was much to do, and the day flew by quickly.

On the second day, there were three games in total. In the very first game, we achieved the goal of scoring a goal. Tragically, our robot fell in the middle of the field and, confused by the field’s symmetry, wasn’t sure which side was its own. Unfortunately, it made the wrong decision and scored an own goal. In the second half, however, we managed to score again, ending the game with a 1-1 draw.

The second game of the day was a friendly match against an SPL (Standard Platform League) team. In the SPL, all teams use the same robot model, a NAO. Despite the different rules in the two leagues, it is possible to arrange matches with a few tricks. The game ended in a 0-0 draw.

To protect some material, we played the first two games with only two robots, but for the third game, we added a third robot. This paid off, as we emerged victorious with a 2-0 win. That evening, we cooked for ourselves again and played some billiards.

On the third day, we won all our matches within our league and played another friendly match against the SPL. By now, we had become more coordinated in preparation and execution, partly due to well-defined roles during the game. We also used a new structure for pre- and post-game discussions, which helped us greatly. Earlier, we had noticed a grill in the garden of our accommodation and, with the host’s permission, invited another humanoid team (the WF Wolves) for a joint barbecue in the evening. Besides billiards, we also played brought-along card games and had good conversations.

Unfortunately, our accommodation wasn’t available for the entire time, so we had to pack up and take everything to the fair on the fourth morning. Thanks to good preparation the night before, the morning was very relaxed, and Timon delighted everyone with homemade pancakes. Well-strengthened, we tackled the next games at the fair, which we won again within our league. Between games, there was also a lot of programming to make the games run even more smoothly.

Thanks to good monitoring during the games (each team is allowed to receive data from the robots via a laptop), errors could be quickly located and sometimes even fixed within a game. We spent the evening in a hotel more centrally located in the city.

Saturday was our last and most important day. It began with a friendly match against the SPL. During halftime, the SPL teams switched, allowing us to play against the SPL league champion in the second half. This same team had won against the world champion of the Humanoid League at the World Cup in Bordeaux last summer. Therefore, we didn’t expect to win and were quite satisfied with our defeat.

Around 1:30 PM came the crucial part of the day: the final match of our league. Our robots were starting to show the wear and tear from the previous days’ games, falling more frequently when kicking but managing to get up quickly. In the first half, we managed to take the lead with a goal. In the second half, it took much longer to get the ball in front of the goal, as we fell with each kick and had to chase the ball anew. Finally, our opponent managed to score the ball we had played close to the goal line, resulting in cheers from both teams. The opposing team celebrated their first goal in the competition, and we celebrated increasing our lead. There were no further goals, and we won the final 2-0!

After the final, we had something to eat. Strengthened, we started packing. We took a short break to attend the award ceremony and collect our trophy, applauding the other winners vigorously. It didn’t take long to load everything into the car and head home. Our conclusion of the German Open: We achieved a best performance in our team’s history and are very satisfied with it.


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