Girls Day 2019

Last Thursday, on March 28, the Girls Day took place at the department of computer science at Universität Hamburg. The Girls Day is an event for girls attending grade five to ten, where they have the chance to get to know technical institutions or companies. We offered a project to provide an inside on robotics.

As last year the students used a cozmo, a small robot from anki, to accomplish a task. First they got to know the robot. Then they developed a computer program to lead the robot through a labyrinth. This was realized with lots of enthusiasm by the girls.

At the end of the day a small contest was hold to find out whose robot was the fastest on the way through the labyrinth. Everybody was proud to reach the goal. The fastest group accomplished the task in 40 seconds. All in all it was a funny and successful day.


Qualified Teams for the RoboCup 2019 Championship in Sydney

The qualified teams for the championship in RoboCup for 2019 have been published. We are happy to be one of the 20 teams which is allowed to participate in the Humanoid Kid Size League.

We are one of the 19 Teams, which is fully qualified. This means we are allowed to play in the regular games as well as in the Drop-in games. One team is only qualified to play the Drop-in games.
Drop-in games are a special game mode. In this game mode multiple teams provide one robot each to form a temporary joint team. These teams are randomly chosen. While cooperation between teams is the main focus of this form of competition, each robot is scored individually based on their performance.

The Drop-in games might be especially relevant in this year, because it is currently being voted on to use the results of the Drop-in games for the seeding for the group phase of the tournament.

In the Humanoid Teen Size League 10 teams are qualified. We are taking part in this league with our cooperation partner the WF Wolves. In this league 8 teams are fully qualified and 2 teams are only qualified for the Drop-in games.

All teams, their qualification videos, Team Description Paper as well as the robot specifications can be seen here:

We are very excited to take part in the championship in Sydney and are very hopeful to be very successful in this year!


Bit-Bots go to Sydney

We have applied for the world cup of RoboCup, which will be in Sydney this year. We have written a Team Description Paper for this purpose, in which we are presenting our research of the last year. We have also made a video for our application. We are very happy to have been accepted and to be able to fly to Sydney in juli and for the exciting games we will get to play.

We are already preparing a lot for the world cup. We have had multiple integration tests in the last few months. In the integration tests we have tested all of our hard- and software. We are also already planning the next integration test.

By changing to our new robot platform, from our Minibots to our new Wolfgang robots, we have had to fight with some new problems. On the other hand we also were more motivated and that is why we managed to accomplish a lot of progress in our software as well as in the continued development of the Wolfgang hardware platform.

As part of working on our software, we have overhauled our vision. It is now better able to process and calculate the results of our CPU and graphics card in parallel.
At the moment multiple bachelor thesis are being worked on, which aim to use Fully Convolutional Neural Networks, to detect additional objects on the field. We aim to also detect robots and goalposts with this method.
The localization of our robot is being completely changed and improved right now. For this we use AMCL, a particle filter, to transform linepoints which have been found by our vision. A live demonstration video is available at:
Additionally to our localization we are also working on a world model. We aim to process the sensor input data from multiple robots and use the data to look at how the ball moved over time, which allows us to filter if we detect e.g. the ball in one place where it couldn’t possible be based on our previous measurements.
We have completely rewritten our behavior. We have developed a new description language which will allow us easier continued development of our behavior. For this we have developed our Dynamic Stack Decider and are currently working on publishing a paper about it.
For our path planning, the calculation which route our robot should take, we have switched to move_base.
For our animations and our walking we have switched to using splines. By using splines we are able to calculate smaller steps between the start of the motion and finishing the motion. This allows us to have less jerky movements.
We managed to send our motors significantly more signals per second. This way we are able to decide in more detail how the motor should move and thus accomplish a more precise movement in general.
We have built new foot sensors into our robots. By looking at the additional data we are generating this way we can stabilise our walking and our animations.
In the context of a bachelor thesis we are currently working on a system to calibrate our motors. Small inaccuracies between a measurement and the reality lead to large differences in how the robot is actually oriented. With this method large differences have already been found and fixed.

For the Symposium of the RoboCup world cup we are planning on a few more scientific papers. We will talk about these more at a later point in time and upload them on our publications page.

Our code is open source and can be viewed on Github:

We will take part in the German Open before we fly to Sydney. We will test our hard- and software there in detail and are excited for games we will get to play in Magdeburg.

Additionally to this Blog, Facebook and Twitter we will also publish images on Instagram. Our new Instagram page can be found here:


New Foot Sensors

Our robots have gotten new foot sensors. We were inspired by Team Rhoban from Bordeaux. ( )

We have improved on the original implementation. The possible update rate has been improved from the original 80 Hz to a theoretically possible 9.5 kHz. Our transfer rate through the bus is limited and thus we filter the output from the load cells and only transfer with a speed of 1 kHz.

We have put the Sensors  on the top side of the feet of our robots.

The feet of our robot with sensors on top.

We have implemented the sensors to help us gather more data and use this data to improve our walking and our animations by making them more stable.
We have put the sensors on our robots on the RoHOW. The sensors are able to measure 40 KG each without breaking. Of course we took that as a challenge and used two thumbs to create as much pressure as possible. There was not enough space near the sensors to use more than just two thumbs.

In the future we plan to scientifically compare how our measured center of pressure compares to an industrial 6 axis force torque sensor and publish our results. In the near future we also plan to release our improved version of the ForceFoot as opensource hardware.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Try out Students

In the last few days, interested teenagers got to try out, what it is like to study computer science at our university. And like the last years, we offered one of the three projects the pupils could choose from.  During this week, they did not just get a look at our daily lifes, but instead got to experience hands on, what it takes to make a robot play soccer.

Our new friend Cozmo, a robot produced by Anki, joined us for this years project, and thanks to its intuitive programming environment made it rather easy for the students to solve various problems and to programm and play games with or against Cozmo. Step by step they helped Cozmo to reach his dream goal to become a soccer star player.

In contrast to the last years, this time we tried a different learning concept, developed by a master student at our university. In various tasks the 13 children first learned how to work with the robot and his graphical programming environment, before later going on to use a “real” programming language. The main goal was to make Cozmo shoot a goal on friday.

Even though this was a challenging task, the students quickly recognized how to use Cozmos sensors to find the ball in the camera image, then calculate the position in the real world, to then figure out where he is supposed to move.

Besides working on the project, the pupils were also keen to see our campus, so we showed them around in the labs of TAMS. They got to control a robotic arm with a HoloLense and watch as Trixie searched for interestingly colored objects.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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


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!

18CAN03 - Blick auf Halle und Fluss.JPG

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!

18CAN01 - Veranstaltungshalle.JPG

Convention Center, Palais des congrès de Montréal Robocup 2018


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.