ROS and OpenSource

Since the beginning of 2017 we are heavily working on our new software architecture. We decided to move away from our old self-written system. Starting with the competitions this year, the RoboCup GermanOpen and IranOpen, our robots are using ROS (see ros.org). This gives us lots of benefits but also there is still a lot of work to do.

Most of our code is rewritten or integrated into ROS by now. Since we can use the same programming languages as before (Python and C++), we were able to keep parts of our old codebase. We are going this step together with other teams from the humanoid kid-size league who also are using ROS and the proposed architecture. This enables exchangeability of the ROS nodes. On this way, we were already capable of testing the other team’s vision code with minimal effort on our system.

Other benefits are the debugging tools and other libraries provided by ROS.

Our software is open source, you can find it on https://github.com/bit-bots/.

We are heavily encouraging other teams also to use our proposed architecture or getting in touch with us to discuss further improvements.
Overview of the proposed architecture

The new architecture was developed as a master’s thesis (see Publications) and will be presented at the RoboCup Symposium 2017 in Nagoya, Japan. We hope that an open architecture can help other teams to focus on improving their codebase and ease the access to the league for new teams.

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End of the IranOpen2017

Unfortunately, as we had not managed to score a goal in the second group stage, this was the end of this year’s Iran Open for us.

We were able to trace the problem of falling over while running to the fact that the gearboxes of some leg motors were worn out and that the parameters of the walking algorithm were not well adapted to the new robot. Despite the relatively difficult conditions due to the conversion of the software to ROS, the competition still was a successful start in the season and we are looking forward to the German Open at the beginning of May in Magdeburg.

The FUmanoids won the game for the third place against Robit. The final was played between MRL and the ZJU Dancers and was an exciting match. The spectators supported strongly the local team from Iran. Unfortunately there were problems with the the game controller, the software which tells the robots the current status of the game. After the half-time pause, the status was not set to “play” again, so some robots did not move. This error was not noticed for several minutes, so it was added a big overtime. As a result, MRL was able to shorten the 4-1 lead to a 4-2 lead. But against the runner-up world champion, this is probably not a shame, although the spectators were very disappointed.

Between the games, we used the time to do some networking with other teams,  helped quickly repair other teams’ robots and visited the exhibits of the aligning university. In the middle-size league, a robot team played a test game against a few volunteering boys from the audience.

At the closing event in the evening at 6 p.m. unfortunately we arrived 10 minutes late and were a bit surprised that it had already begun. Nevertheless, we took our honorary seats in the first rows. Unfortunately, none of us got a translation device, so that the speeches were somewhat monotonous. This year, there were separate ceremonies for the junior and major leagues, so the event lasted only an hour. Afterwards the banquet took place in the competition hall. We met different teams, took some selfies with them and exchanged email addresses.

In the evening we decided to visit the nearby Tajrish Square. At the front desk of the hotel we ordered two taxis. The about 20-minute trip costs about 3€ per taxi. There we strolled over the closing bazaar, which some of us already knew from the previous years and the adjoining mosque. The trip back to the hotel turned out to be more exciting: we negotiated with a taxi driver a plausible price and showed him a letter of our hotel, which explained the way there. The car did not seem to pass through the German TÜV test, but since the top speed due to the traffic situation in Tehran seems to be about 20 km/ h, we were not worried. One of the two taxi drivers seemed to know the way and the other wanted to follow him. Unfortunately they lost themselves in the traffic. After the taxi driver, of whom we had thought he knew the way, had asked other people at the roadside  several times, we actually reached the destination. And our friends in the other taxi arrived a few minutes later. We spent a nice remaining evening at the hotel with our interpreter Mahdi.

The next day was completely reserved for sightseeing. Since we should be in a larger group, we had to pick another team at the exhibition hall. Since we were no longer with buses of the university, we could not simply go over the exhibition grounds to the meeting place. The route outside was about 20km long and the journey lasted half an hour. Walking we would have been there in 15 minutes. We started our tour at the Golestan Palace complex, which is really very worth seeing. It is located close to the large bazaar of Tehran. There we split up into smaller groups, lunched a delicious Iranian burger and covered with spices, cloths and other souvenirs.

Afterwards we went on to the Nature Bridge, which connects two parks across a large road and houses even cafes and viewing platforms. The actually relatively short way to get there was extended by a traffic jam for a considerable time. Many of us used the opportunity to make a little sleep in the more or less comfortable bus to catch up. Arrived at one of the connected parks we made a pleasant walk and enjoyed the view from the bridge.

After dark we drove to the Milad Tower, the television tower, and enjoyed the spectacular view. A in theory successful finish of the tour, only the trip back to the hotel was problemfull. The bus driver unfortunately drove 20 minutes into the opposite direction of our hotel. He had to go back, of course. With some help from other car drivers we arrived finally.

The team ER-Force from Erlangen was already waiting for us, because we wanted to go to the airport together with another, bigger bus and their flight was a bit earlier than ours and were promised a bus even earlier. We had not eaten since noon and so we had to take the food from the hotel restaurant into the bus.

Arriving at the airport we had to wait some time until we could check in. Also when the information displays would let us believe we could get rid of our suitcases, the check-in desk was still unoccupied for a felt eternity. We also had to wait a long time for the departure check-out and the security check-up was still closed until shortly before boarding. Arriving three hours before departure, the Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport is not really too early.

Despite some delay of our first flight from Tehran to Vienna we got our connection flight to Hamburg. Also our luggage we received without problems in Hamburg. Tired but satisfied with the work done at the competition, we went to the Hamburg sun on a cold Sunday morning. Most of us needed a bit of sleep.

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Freshmen presentations and day of open doors

In the last weeks it was very quite at the campus. But now the new semester has started and as every winter term there are many freshmen students starting to study at the Informatikum. In the context of the orientation unit we presented our team as a student working group and are hoping the see some new faces in our lab.
The first ones already dropped by and we are planning to hold a “day of open doors” in our lab (F-015) on Thursday the 1st of November from 12am to 6pm. Here we can give interested people a more detailed insight into our work.

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Second Place at the GermanOpen 2013

Now it’s official, the Wulffs were able to beat us in the final match with 0:2, after our robots expected problems with the ball recognition. But after all it was a very successful Championship and it went better than at our first visit in Magdeburg last year.

Motivated by this improvement we are looking forward to the World Championships in the Netherlands. We pointed out that we are now serious opponents and hopefully are able to score a good result in the Netherlands with a little bit of bug fixing.

Die Mannschaften mit ihren Programmieren direkt nach dem Finale
The teams with their programmers after the match
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