Preparation day 2 / Robot Inspection / Poster Session

Today was the last preparation day and it ended with the first graded tasks. Robot inspection is the task to show the basic abilities and safety issues. If you fail, your robot is disqualified and therefore not be able to take part in the competition. A robot enters the arena, drives to a inspection point and leaves the arena. The robot has to speak, navigate and avoid obstacles. It is also checked for safety, that includes a functional emergency button, and no strange cable design. We passed it with the blue robot directly and had some minor issues with the purple bot, that decided to not enter the arena but go around it. During the robot inspection that happens quite frequently and we managed it on the second try.

Afterwards a poster presentation took place. All teams presented their poster, holding information about their robot design and research they are doing. This is quite interesting and the poster session ends with discussions between teams and a welcome reception.

Tomorrow the tasks will start. At 9:00 Japanese time, meaning 2:00 in the morning for you, we will start with the Person and Speech Recognition task. Afterwards the Help Me Carry task will start and directly after this the day ends with Storing Groceries.

Testing today went well. For Help me Carry, Lisa followed to the parking lot to a real car outside of the RoboCup hall, approximately 200 meters away from the starting point. That was a nice trip.

Raphael presenting the poster.
Lisa really likes Happy Mini! A great team of fun people from Japan.
Malte just before the robot inspection. This is a very tough moment.

Preparation Day 1

Yesterday we could enter the venue. Our all time goal is to be the first team in the arena that autonomously navigates. This achievement was unlocked pretty fast. Robots were assembled in light speed. Then we faced some stability issues on our main robot but hope to have them under control now. The sensor and motor connections were dropping out randomly. This seems to be fixed now.

We met a lot of old faces from different teams. Objects are trained now and results are fine. Maps are created and now we are going over to make the robot understand the environment.

Us in front of the venue. In whole Nagoya you find placards, even in the subways.
Here you get an impression.
Daniel testing the Storing Groceries task.

Greetings from the future!

After in total approximately 40 hours of traveling and no bed around (sleeping on two airports (Dubai and Tokio)) we finally arrived in Nagoya, Japan yesterday seven hours ahead of Germany. Greetings from the future (Spoiler alert: The world is still alive)! 12 suitcases and bags with in total  holding approximately 240kg of robots,  stuff and tools have been transported around half the world for this big major tournament. At the apartment we spotted the surroundings. After we fall asleep till the next morning and some of us are still jet lagged.  In the next morning we started assembling the robots and did some basic testing in the apartment. We had some minor issues. Some 3d printed parts were broken. Some fixings were made by delicate melting with naked flames over the gas driven hotplate. Don’t do this at home. Here are professionals working. Weather is quite hot and humidity is high. We sweat a lot.

Flight impressions, from somewhere over the dessert.
There are robots inside the suitcases. We queue up. The most sportive ones are in front :P.
Raphael as he is hunting for unique toilette pictures. This one was really special.
Assembling blue Lisa in the apartment.
Professional melting of 3d printed parts in order to fix them, when you don't have any tools around...
... and this is the result. Works perfectly fine.

On our way to the RoboCup 2017 Worldchampionship in Nagoya

RoboCup 2017 is approaching fast! Currently we are in Tokyo and try to sleep at the airport. Tomorrow we will hit our destination in Nagoya. The RoboCup will take place from 27th - 31st of July. Stay tuned, we will post about the stages and will frequently update the results. We can enter the place already on the 25th and will have two preparation days, where we have to train our both bot ladies all objects, the environment and of course assemble everything back to normal. We are looking forward to the competition.

We had a quick stop in Dubai and went to the Burj Khalifa for doing some light paintings. On the next morning our flight to Tokyo was going, that’s were we are currently. We slept the last two days on airports and are looking forward to sleep in a real bed starting from tomorrow. Today in the morning we will catch a train to Nagoya, the place were the RoboCup World-Championship takes place.

The next week will be tough, we are competing against teams from all over the world and we build up a cooperation with another participating team at the other end of the globe.

This is how our travel itinerary before we packed Doesn't it look like art?.
homer in Dubai.
This is the team, fully exhausted by night in Dubai.
We even found a robot. This is like an underwater Roomba, cleaning the water in from of the Burj Khalifa. But not nearly as intelligent as our two ladies. These robots are remotely controlled by some people around having their control station. It's fun to watch them working.
In between all the preparation, there is some time for being childish :).

Day of visual computing Jury Price

Yesterday the day of visual computing took place at our Campus in Koblenz and yay we won the first Jury Price! We feel really honored about this.

All students that did projects in their spare time, during courses or as their thesis presented their projects. People that graduated in visual computing and companies travel to the university and meet old friends. Companies are watering mouths of the students in presenting their companies in a way that students may want to directly abort their studies and be with them. In fact it is a big come together that comes along with a lot of cool projects and companies.

This picture shows the homer family of Robbie 28 and gives a brief hint of what happened last year. Viktor left the project after  leading it brilliantly for 5 years, we won the RoboCup@Home German Open, four of five prices of the European Robotics League and took part in a complete new Challenge the ICRA DJI Robomasters Mobile Manipulation Challenge.

We will use this now to recap the last year. A lot happened! Viktor left his position at the university after leading the project for 5 years and gave it  to Raphael.  A great team of students took place in tournaments of the European Robotics League four times, 2on the RoboCup German Open and crafted two more robots namely Grimey (who died after one episode) and Maggie that is happily stacking cubes. Sometimes we stayed in the lab till 4 a.m. and even worked through the weekends. But in the end it was worth it. Now we are in the end phase of our preparations for the WorldCup in Japan later this month.

From the functionality side there was also a lot that changed. Deep neural networks are approaching, we are now using them for face detection, gender estimation, pose estimation of a person in order to estimate a gesture. We fine tune the last layer of image net pre-trained networks for image classification and integrated it into our object recognition and detection. We also re-identify persons with them.

We made big advantages in sound source localization and started cooping with other teams around the world and presented an novel approach for teaching the robot new commands by natural language and developed approaches for more natural hand overs, that are applicable for humans as well as for robots.

On the other side we developed an omnidirectional platform using mechanum wheels that that has been used in reanimating an old version of Lisa and later gave birth to Maggie.

This is the price we won. Would you guess that it's 3D printed?.
Maggie likes to play with cubes!.

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Maggie, stacking cubes. A bit shaky but it was here first artistic performance since she came back from Singapore. She was a bit out of practice but gave her best. In the background is Lisa answering questions.
Daniel showing his advances in the gripping task. He now calculates multiple grip poses around an object in case that one is not executable by the arm.
Again in the sake of beauty.

Now we feel motivated for the RoboCup WorldCup preparation. We will departure here on the 21th of July to Nagoya in Japan where the World Championship takes place starting from the 25th. Stay tuned.