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.
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.
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.
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.