AI Day in Stuttgart

In November, the Bit-Bots were invited to the AI Specialist Day at the VHS Stuttgart to give a presentation and lead a workshop. So, we (Flo, Timon, Jan-Niklas, and Lea) set off very early on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, to Stuttgart. At 7 am, we all gathered at Hamburg Central Station. We would have preferred to take a later train (which we had also booked), but the railway had already canceled it in advance (as they did with our return train too).

Due to the early hour, the journey started off quite sleepy and generally quiet. This was probably because we hadn’t noticed during the reservation that it was a quiet car. As time passed, the drowsiness wore off, and the snow, surprisingly still present in Hamburg in the morning, diminished as we traveled south.

With about half an hour of delay, we reached Stuttgart and found ourselves amidst an attraction: Stuttgart 21. Although the new train station is not yet completed, on the approximately ten-minute journey out of the construction site, we were informed about the progress of the project. We had discussed beforehand to first go to the VHS Stuttgart, where the lecture would take place, and then check into the hotel we had booked for the evening.

At the venue, we were warmly greeted and led to our workshop room. Upon arrival, robots were unpacked, prepared for action, and the later presentation was practiced one last time. It didn’t take long before the first interested visitors found our room, which was well-attended at the beginning of the workshop.

In the workshop, we explained how we solve certain tasks, passed around parts of our robot for attendees to touch, and also demonstrated our robot in action. For this, we set up a piece of grass and placed our robots on it. Simultaneously, we showed on a screen what the robot was currently seeing, how it recognized balls and lines, and what it thought about itself. Subsequently, we demonstrated walking and standing-up motions.

The latter was particularly well-received, which is why we started our presentation in the large auditorium with a live demonstration. Afterward, we explained what the RoboCup is and how we use artificial intelligence in our software. The presentation can also be found on YouTube at the following link:

After the presentation, we exchanged a few words with our contact person, Monika Kurz. The official part was now over, and we set out in search of something to eat, finding a nice restaurant based on recommendations. Well-nourished, we were ready to head to the hotel, which was not too far away. Upon reaching the room, it was already quite late, so we all went to sleep relatively soon.

The next day, starting with a delicious breakfast, there was some time to explore Stuttgart a bit before heading back in the early afternoon. We strolled through Christmas markets in the city center, discovered a paternoster in the town hall, and walked to a small lake where there were many ducks. Finally, we bid farewell to Monika, who was delighted that our presentation and workshop went so well.

The return journey was relaxed but also productive, making the one-hour delay not as noticeable.


Conclusion of RoboCup 2023

In the quarterfinals on Saturday, we played against the CIT-Brains team from Japan and unfortunately lost. Considering that CIT-Brains were the world champions last year, we had expected this outcome and were not too disappointed. Nevertheless, we managed to prevent a few goals. With that, we were eliminated from the competition, but it was our best result since the inception of the Bit-Bots (excluding the virtual competition during Covid-19). However, that wasn’t the last game for our robots at this RoboCup. The hosts and world champions Rhoban invited us to a friendly match at short notice, which was accompanied and filmed by Arte. We agreed and tried to get everything ready for the game as quickly as possible. During the match, our robots were able to showcase their current abilities, although there were some last-minute issues. The game was then called off after the first half, as Arte had limited time, and both teams wanted to conserve their materials. Now our robots could truly rest and recover from the games.

We still wanted to witness exciting games, so the idea arose to arrange a friendly match between the Humanoid League and the Standard Platform League (SPL). In the SPL, all teams play with the same robot model, a “Nao”. This brings some different rules and a slightly different playing field (for example, they play on relatively short grass with a standardized ball, while we can play on long artificial turf with a variety of balls). However, due to their humanoid appearance and compatible size, it was still possible to have the current world champions of both leagues (Rhoban and B-Human) play against each other. We watched with anticipation as the Naos (B-Human) won on the field of the Humanoid League.

For the remaining time of the RoboCup, we engaged with other teams, leading to an exciting experiment: we equipped our robots with the legs of the NUBots and were actually able to make them walk.

With that, the week came to an end, and so did our time in the exhibition hall. Everything was packed up and taken to our accommodation. The next day, we moved to another part of Bordeaux: the university. Here, the symposium, a scientific conference associated with the RoboCup, took place. In addition to attending different talks, we read posters and also presented one ourselves. In the afternoon, we were invited to visit Rhoban’s lab and saw some intriguing robots. With the symposium, the RoboCup concluded, and the following days were used to explore Bordeaux a bit more and head to the sea.