Taking out trash, receptionist and serving drinks

Today was a pretty stressfull day. At nine o’clock in the morning stage one started with the Housekeeper tasks. We mainly went for Taking Out The Garbage and Storing Groceries. Because the teams got each an additional slot for both stage one categories, we also decided to try a run of ‘Serving the Breakfast’. Simultaneously to preparing the tasks, we had to calibrate TIAGos head in the morning and also an external camera we use. This went quite smooth. However the tasks already started at 9:00 a.m. in the morning and not all the games had enough preparation time — that’s why Lisa only mimed to prepare the breakfast by filling imaginary cereals into an imaginary bowl.

We had a perfect run of ‘Taking Out The Garbage’ — an actually useful task, right? I guess there are not many people that actually like this housekeeping task. To fulfill it, TIAGo went to the first approximate bin location and detected it using it’s laser scanner. We then try to find circular patterns in the laser scan and transform the detected points into map coordinates. To reliably grasp the trash bag out of the bin, an effort based grasping approach is used. As we don’t have a force torque sensor on the end-effector, we have to rely on the current of the motors which works also quite nice. So back to our approach on that: We lower TIAGo’s end-effector into the center of the bin until we get a certain threshold. That’s the signal to lift the trash bag. Because of the missing force-torque sensors we can hardly estimate if the trash slipped out of the end-effector or not — so we tried a lot to just ensure that we will grasp the bag reliably. This worked out twice and resulted in gaining 500 points for this task.

TIAGo grasping the first trash bag
TIAGo grasping the first trash bag.
... and the second one
... and the second one.

In the following, we did two rounds of Storing Groceries. However, as we could not porperly test this interesting manipulation task beforehand due to the late arrival of TIAGo, we sadly did not score any points. We will aim for that in tomorrows runs. The second part – the Partyhost tasks – we started with the ‘Receptionist’ task in which Lisa had to greet guests at the entrance door and introduce them to some other guests in the living room. “Introducing” meant stating the name and favorite drink of the person. The robot also had to point at the guest it was introducing and afterwards to an empty seat for them to sit. Lisa did a good job and got all possible points (no bonuses, though).

Lisa pointing to a free seat during the Receptionist task
Lisa pointing to a free seat during the Receptionist task.

‘Serving Drinks’ is a game where the robot has to serve drinks to persons. People can be located randomly at a party location. They can choose between several drinks, but one of them is not available. By detecting the missing drink, it is possible to get bonus points. With a safe approach, we managed to make some points. Unfortunately, Lisa’s Kinect died while trying the game for a second time with a more advanced implementation. Tomorrow we’re going to run ‘Serving Drinks’ for another time after fixing some issues in an extended version.

Lisa serving a beer that she just received from a bar man
Lisa serving a beer that she just received from a bar man.

As last game for today we also went for a round of ‘Find My Mates’, in which a person goes into an apartment and get a description of the persons in a specified room. We didn’t plan to test it here but the other ‘Partyhost’ tasks went that good and because of the mentioned extra round per scenario we just decided to spontaneously test this task which was just prepared on-site. Lisa did not that bad. She was able to find two persons in a room and described one of them correctly by their gender, pose (sitting/ standing) and the shirt color. The scores for today will follow soon - stay tuned!

TIAGo arrived late and partly broken

We had a lot of trouble yesterday and the day before regarding the transport of TIAGo. It didn’t arrive in time, even so TIAGo was traveling already for the last three weeks. We were not the only team that didn’t get their robot in time. The first sad news received us when we arrived. TIAGo was not there then after contacting the cargo company they told us to deliver it by lunch time. At lunch time we got the news that they could not locate the robot. After approximately three more hours they located the robot but instead of moving from the airport to the ICC (where the RoboCup World Championship is held) it went straight to Canberra (another city in Australia, which is about 3.5 hours away from Sydney). Seems like they just mixed up boxes. Ok … waiting, waiting, waiting, emails, emails, emails later we received that TIAGo could not be transported back on the same day. So we just missed the first preparation day with TIAGo completely and hat to tremble to get it in time for the robot inspection. Robots that are not inspected are not allowed to take part in the competition. Ok further waiting waiting waiting … TIAGo arrived. We were smiling happy about the fact that we had one more hour to make it working for the robot inspection so we brought the box to our team area opened it and boom. The box was opened in between, our poster was missing, which we put inside. The head got a huge crack. The case had been opened during the transportation, most probably during the customs and closed improperly. The head is used to be fixed in the transport case. After somebody opened the transport box it was not any longer in place. Further the clear signs that the transport box should face upwards was ignored, at least when it arrived finally at the ICC. These combinations lead to a cracked head. Calibrations and stability were gone. All that are problems that you really don’t like to have when attending a world championship and do best in advance to avoid those occurrences. We had a lot luck that we got Lisa in our suitcases and our time was not completely wasted for the first two preparation days. Further we want to give a huge thanks to the CATIE team from france which repaired the head for us. They were a lot more experienced and equipped than us for handling this issue. Thanks a lot you helped us so much and this support will stay in our memories.

The rest will be summarized quite shortly now. Even so everything was quite tight in the end we managed to pass the robot inspection on the first trial and even could test the Take out the trash and storing groceries task. First thing this morning we will calibrate the hand against the camera which is quite handy. TIAGo grabs a calibration pattern and automatically move it’s arm and camera to acquire calibration data and later on optimize the transformations for alignment. That’s a really handy tool provided by PAL!

We are now leaving into direction of the ICC to start preparation.

Raphael presented the poster. Here he is pointing at Scratchy, a low cost autonomous robot we developed for research and robot competitions
Raphael presented the poster. Here he is pointing at Scratchy, a low cost autonomous robot we developed for research and robot competitions.
Robots all around
Robots all around.
Testing receptionist with Lisa. In this task the robot has to await visitors and introduce them to the other guests. Further the robot offers the guest an empty seat
Testing receptionist with Lisa. In this task the robot has to await visitors and introduce them to the other guests. Further the robot offers the guest an empty seat.
The CATIE team just offered us in repairing the help. We were so grateful of that. They also received their robot late
The CATIE team just offered us in repairing the help. We were so grateful of that. They also received their robot late.
Team leader meetings can be very long especially when there is an all-new rulebook
Team leader meetings can be very long especially when there is an all-new rulebook.

drive_to(icc)

Today, after a long night of well deserved sleep after the long flight, we woke up early in the morning.

As our apartment is not that far away from the International Convention Center (ICC) – where the RoboCup is located –, we decided to just joystick Lisa there. On the way we had some quite interesting moments. Ever saw a robot crossing the road on a green light? After 25 minutes we arrived at the ICC. The funny thing is, we even mapped on our way. Of course we never made a map of this size and partly it must be overlapping, because we don’t have layers for different levels. Nevertheless, the map is there and we can potentially navigate in it. However, the path calculation is quite slow on a map of this size.

Those people in the cars must be curious about this strange machine crossing the street..
Those people in the cars must be curious about this strange machine crossing the street...
And through the park in front of the ICC
And through the park in front of the ICC.

After registration we were the first team inside the arena and tested the robot inspection. TIAGo is still not here, but instead got transported to another city somehow… Tomorrow to lunchtime he should arrive though. At least this is what the shipping company told us.

Mark and Ida testing inside the arena
Mark and Ida testing inside the arena.

Currently we are testing and optimizing our strategy, because all of a sudden the organizers found time to insert a fourth official test slot. Tests with Lisa are going quite well so far. The most important thing up to now is that we are able to pass the door easily—we had huge issues with this at the RoboCup GemanOpen.

Arrival in Sydney

Almost without any incidences – disregarding a lost (and luckily later on found!) phone, an only supposedly lost purse and some puzzling about what our suitcases looked like – the whole flight went very well. During the customs and border control at Sydney Airport there were also no difficulties.

Relaxing in Sydney's morning sun after a long flight
Relaxing in Sydney's morning sun after a long flight.
Patrik assembling Lisa in our appartement
Patrik assembling Lisa in our appartement.

The remaining time we used to assemble and test Lisa in our appartement. Her base got shaken quite a lot during her suitcase trip around the globe so that the internal controller boards had to be fixed. However, Lisa is operating again now. Tomorrow she is moving to the ICC venue where the RoboCup takes place.

For the first time in robbie history, our team is able to see the competition center from the rooftop of the appartement
For the first time in robbie history, our team is able to see the competition center from the rooftop of the appartement.

TIAGo did not arrive yet at the venue. Hopefully he does tomorrow as then there is the first preparation day for the teams… Despite reaching Sydney two weeks prior to us, TIAGo faced some problems reaching his place to stay and we are currently trying to manage his successful arrival in time.

Stay tuned!