2nd prize at DJI Technical Challenge in Shenzhen, China

Directly after the RoboCup WorlCup last week another homer team went to the DJI Robomaster Technical Challenge to Shenzhen in China. This was a somehow special attendance for us. We were invited by DJI to Shenzhen after our participation in the ICRA Robomaster Mobile Manipulation Challenge at the end of May in Singapore. They offered us to sponsor the flights and accommodation for up to five people. So the funding was set in advance, that is very unusual for the competitions we go to. However as the main team was taking part in RoboCup Japan at nearly the same time a new team needs to be formed. There were interested students that approached us multiple times and then formed a voluntary team, namely Adrian Skubella, Nick Theisen, Frank Ockenfeld and Thies Möhlenhof. They spend their free time in building and programming a robot and had just one month of preparation time. The fact that they did not have any previous practical robotics experience in advance is astonishing.

That’s how Ralph was born. A newly constructed robot that was built for stacking cubes autonomously. Maggie, the robot we have used for the ICRA Mobile Manipulation Challenge, could not be used because the requirements changed and the basis of Maggie gave birth to Marge, the second robot we used for the RoboCup. Basically the took the bones from Grimey and Maggie and some new parts to construct a new robot - Ralph.

This was the pre qualification round. The basic abilities of the robot to be able to transport the cubes from the starting area to the working are were shown. If this failed the competition would have been ended here for us. This wasn't that easy because there was close to no time for testing in the arena in advance
This was the pre qualification round. The basic abilities of the robot to be able to transport the cubes from the starting area to the working are were shown. If this failed the competition would have been ended here for us. This wasn't that easy because there was close to no time for testing in the arena in advance.

The team went to Shenzhen at the end of July for the Robomaster event, which turned out to be a really big thing. The competitions are separated into the Robomaster main competition where Teams have to engineer robots and solve tasks remote controlled. This is more about hardware engineering and on the other side there where the technical challenges, where tasks were solved autonomously. The event was staged as a big sport event so we felt very important when we where in the spotlight in this elaborated arena, which felt like being part of a big event. In fact part of the competition where streamed on twitch.

This was the play field for the main competition. Very cool intimated by cameras, design and music. The technical challenges also took place, in the corners of this field
This was the play field for the main competition. Very cool intimated by cameras, design and music. The technical challenges also took place, in the corners of this field.

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This was the team area. Looks like a mess :) There was no time for tidiness, just for work and testing. People were sleeping on the floor. Everywhere robots, robot parts and tools. In between people, food and drinks. No everyone would feel at home here, but we did
This was the team area. Looks like a mess :) There was no time for tidiness, just for work and testing. People were sleeping on the floor. Everywhere robots, robot parts and tools. In between people, food and drinks. No everyone would feel at home here, but we did.

Raphael came over to Shenzhen for helping the team a bit with the navigation and mapping and some general tips. We improved the robot a bit. The grippers where changed such that they had more space for holding the cubes. The judgment system was installed, which allows the referees to switch of the robot remotely after the time is up. The robot inspection was done in advance to each round. The testing time on the actual field was very limited. So in the end we could only test on the real environment once before the actual competition.

Round 1 - this wasn’t our day. After putting the robot inside the arena and setting everything up, Ralph was supposed to bring down the lift. Directly in the beginning the lift lilted along with the cubes and we had to cancel the run with not much robot movement at all. But other teams had also problems, which made us advance in the second round. Round 2 - The day before our laser scanner did announce to not work any longer for us in the competition. That’s a pity because we used it for navigation, localization, mapping and the cube detection. So we changed the code in a more static manner. We took a set of two cubes and were able to place it, just with robot movements and no knowledge about the arena at all. This turned out to be our best round. Ralph transported a tower of 40 cm from the starting area to the work area. Round 3 - We made it till round 3. Only five teams were left and we already had some prizes set. This was already more than we would have expected. In the third round we also had some problems and were not able to stack more cubes then before. In the end our second round was taken as the best and therefore as our end result.

In the end multiple teams got awarded with the 2nd prize, because the results where so close in the end.

2nd Prize for a team that just formed roughly a month ago and did not have any practical robot experience. Well done!
2nd Prize for a team that just formed roughly a month ago and did not have any practical robot experience. Well done!.
Hanging out with other teams of the competition is fun! We tried so much local food that was very tasteful
Hanging out with other teams of the competition is fun! We tried so much local food that was very tasteful.
Us, on the way to the robot inspection. Before we could go on the field we had to verify that the robot fulfills the specifications made by the rulebook. That means limited size of 80x80x80 and a maximum weight of 25kg
Us, on the way to the robot inspection. Before we could go on the field we had to verify that the robot fulfills the specifications made by the rulebook. That means limited size of 80x80x80 and a maximum weight of 25kg.

results

Our working area in between other teams of the technical challenge
Our working area in between other teams of the technical challenge.
Last minute checks, before the robot inspection
Last minute checks, before the robot inspection.
This was the prize for the winners of the main event. This one was really huge!
This was the prize for the winners of the main event. This one was really huge!.
The whole team including Tin, who did a great job volunteering for us during the week. Ralph is hidden by the cubes
The whole team including Tin, who did a great job volunteering for us during the week. Ralph is hidden by the cubes.
And one more group picture. This was taken just before the first round
And one more group picture. This was taken just before the first round.

We want to thank DJI for the invitation, the volunteers Tin and Gavina, which where a great support for us during the challenge and the additional support we got from PROMOS which paid up the parts for the robot modification and the Visa for China. We are looking forward to the next challenges.