Wednesday 20 October 2010

Nao-Team HTWK at the Faculty-Rallye

To learn more about their faculty, computer science, mathematics and natural sciences freshers took part in a rallye around the campus at the 1st October 2010. At every station they were quizzed to win a prize in the end.


One of the stations was (of course^^) our Nao-Team. 30 students in groups of 5 came to us to learn more about the robots and the Robocup.

Needless to say they were also allowed to play with Big Mike and Co. =)

Sunday 17 October 2010

Nao-Team HTWK at MDR (Broadcast on 18.10.2010, 19:50)

The Nao-Team HTWK will be at the MDR show "Mach Dich Ran"  on the 18th October 2010, 19:50! Here's the official announcement:

MDR / Mach Dich Ran

Happy watching!

Monday 20 September 2010

Nao-Team HTWK at the "Mainzer Wissenschaftsgespräche"

The Nao-Team HTWK presents their talk "Mit evolutionären Algorithmen zum aufrechten Gang: Bipede Roboter im Praxistest" at the "Mainzer Wissenschaftsgespräche" on the 22. and 23. September as part of the German National Merit Foundations program.

The schedule can be found here.

Public TV appearance of the Nao-Team HTWK

Our Naos will appear in a German TV show?!  Yes they will! On Saturday we record the show in a town called "Gössnitz" for the TV station called "MDR" and a show called "Mach dich ran!" (no we won't translate this into English...). We will update the blog as soon as the show is aired. See our last blog post for the Nao training sessions ;-)

Hacked Wiimotes for Nao control

We've hacked the Wiimote driver for the Linux kernel in oder to control the Naos via Bluetooth. This is a very nice feature for doing testgames against our AI.

Three new team members

New team members joined our Nao-Team HTWK within the last two months. We are very happy to officially welcome three new Computer Science graduate students

Katja Zeissler
Sandra Unger
Christoph Vitz

to our team!

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Long Way Home

Greetings. This is Casey again. Today I will talk a little about our way back home to Germany.

After the world championships ended our team roughly had half a day to enjoy Singapore. The humans explored Singapore by using the local transports while I and the other robots relaxed in our hotel rooms. We've been too exhausted from all the games and shows so during their sightseeing we weren't willing to accompany them.

Soon enough, we had to leave the hotel and went to the airport enjoying the last views of Singapore during our taxi rides. One of the humans had to board his plane earlier that day, so four robots and five humans remained. Our takeoff was scheduled for midnight. We arrived at the airport just in time and were ready for boarding, but suddenly we found out that several technical problems occurred. Apparently, the engines of the 747 from Sydney to Singapore had unknown defects.

So we ended up in the preboarding room, watching the technicians working on the engine of our plane that was supposed to carry us home. We even found the time to perform some Nao acrobatics for some interested kids who stayed with us. After roughly two hours of waiting, the pilot told us that the technicians were done examining and repairing the engine. We finally boarded the plane and had our seats so the plane was ready for departure. Most of the passengers were shocked when the pilot decided to do emergency break in the middle of the takeoff. We rather remained calm as we are not as allergic to plane crashes as the humans are. Our critical parts only cease to function on temperatures above 5700 degrees Kelvin, according to our data sheet :) .

The pilot explained that one of the engines wasn't providing the thrust it needs for takeoff. After some more depressing time at the airport of almost doing nothing, they told us that our plane won't start in the near future and the crew of the plane need to get some rest for the next 10 hours while the technicians were still examining the engine. Hmm, we got stuck at the airport!

They offered a hotel room to the humans until the problems were fixed. In order to reach their hotel, the humans had to leave the international area of the airport again. As it turned out, we were considered as highly advanced and capable robots which are not allowed to enter the territory of Singapore without any proper customs documents. The forms we used about ten days ago were only valid for a single immigration, so we weren't allowed to leave the international ground on the airport anymore. We had to part ways with the humans for some time since they were seriously lacking sleep.

We've been dropped off in the lost luggage area for the night... playing with toys we found in the luggage of the humans. We also synchronized our emergency broadcast signal in case the plane has serious engine problems.

The humans were accommodated in a pretty impressive hotel called 'Sheraton Towers'. Well, it's a bit unfair since our accomodation is a small, uncomfortable IKEA family bag. They told us later that it was very impressive enjoying the breakfast and lunch there. On the next day, about 2pm, the plane seemed to be ready to have another try. The pilot told us that they were doing test flights earlier and all problems would have been solved. Anyways, for my part, I ran a self test on my software modules that allow me to swim. In the end the flight departed without further problems and we arrived in Germany about 12 hours later.

As you might have guessed already, we are back home happy and healthy. The humans are currently working on their exams and we are already preparing for the next German Open.

Saturday 26 June 2010

Impressions from the banquet, Irish pub and the long way home ...

Shirt exchanges

You might have heard about the tradition to exchange shirts after the RoboCup ended. This time Daniel gave one of his shirts to the team from Israel. Furthermore, we wanted to thank people who helped us a lot at the convention center. One of them was the security guy at the entrance. He was our 'man in the middle' for the center management and put us through the people we needed in order to clarify problems, so he received a shirt, too. His response: "I will never forget you guys". Well, we found new friends in Singapore :-)

News about our last night in Singapore and our trip back to Germany

Our last night in Singapore was amazing. After the banquet all Nao teams met in an Irish pub, exchanged impressions from Singapore, research results of the Naos and did some small talk about their country, university and culture. After we changed the locations a few more times, all teams grew together, new international friendships formed and visit invitations around the globe came up.

Tobias is back in Germany. He had a very pleasant flight with Singapore Airlines while the others are still in Singapore. Their airplane was having an engine problem, so after more than 5 hours waiting at the airport Qantas booked a hotel (5 stars and within the top500 ... how amazing is this?) and they immigrated to Singapore once again. Back in Germany, Tobias booked a hostel near the train station in Frankfurt/Main and his night wasn't that quite - he shared a room with five Irish people. This was a hell of a noisy night.

Because of the flight delay we weren't able to use our tickets for the train to Leipzig. At that time the tickets were still in Singapore and Deutsche Bahn was unable to reprint tickets when all data (ticket number, owner, time) were only emailed ... so Tobias needed to charge the full price for another time ... yes, they could do better on the service quality and their software system.

Update: the others try to board the plane and will be in Frankfurt at 12 pm the next day.

Thursday 24 June 2010

The final matches are over ...

The finals are over and the matches were really impressive. As expected, B-Human is the winner of the RoboCup 2010. The second place goes to rUNSWift from Australia and the third to Austin Villa from United States. Later this day, there will be a banquet for all teams and tomorrow is the conference. Our flights back to Germany are on Friday. The Internet will be  shut down at 6 pm localtime, so this might be our last post until Saturday back in Germany. Hopefully we see each other at the RoboCup 2011 in Istanbul/Turkey.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Back to our hotel ...

... good night Singapore :-)

Nao-Team HTWK wins the Open Challenge!

We've won the Open Challenge since most teams voted for our research idea about robust vision without calibration! Thanks a lot! Again, a short description of our idea may be found here:

Impressions from today

Have a look at Nils playing with a Nao, the mates preparing for our last match, Nils watching the Open Challenges, Casey being impatient to play, the start console for the last match and a deconstructed field (yeah, that is weird - there's still one day left until finish).

Building bridges between countries and making new friends

Earlier today "Les 3 Mousquetaires" came around and gave us team shirts. This is a very big-hearted gift. Thank you guys we will cherish it :-)

Video update: Austin Villa - Second half

Video update: Austin Villa - First half

Video update: Austrian Kangaroos - Second half

Video update: Austrian Kangaroos - First half

This Midsummer Night's Dream is over: Nao-Team HTWK - Austin Villa: 1 - 3!

Well, unfortunately our Midsummer Night's Dream is over, we've lost with two points difference in the Quarter Finals against a really difficult opponent: Austin Villa from USA. Our robots gave their best. This time one of our robot even completely broke his neck and in fact with highly exhaustion our goalie scored one own goal. This is definitely no loss, we gained so much amazing experiences and impressions and we're one of the 8 best SPL teams in the world!

We would like to thank our faculty, all professors and  our sponsors who made our trip to Singapore possible. Furthermore, we would like to thank all others who supported and shared the thrill with us before and during the RoboCup 2010 world championship.

Video updates, some more images and posts are coming soon.

In the back Stefan, Tobias, Rico. In the front Nils, Daniel and Thomas.

Open Challange is over ...

... and we are quite satisfied. But have a look for yourself:

SPL @ RoboCup 2010

A photo of all team members from the Standard Platform League.

Nao-Team HTWK - Austrian Kangaroos: 2 - 1!

Yes! We've won again and reached the Quarter Finals! :-)

Open Challenge: robust vision without calibration

Here you'll find our Open Challenge description that has been proposed yesterday. Every team is free to post ideas and research about everything that is related to the Nao robots. Our contribution is about robust vision without calibration:

3:30 am and the ceiling light is still on

Last night some of us continued their hacking session back at the hotel room, since the light and even the Internet has been shut down early at the conference hall (!). Did some robot calibration, code review and testing. Well, we faked the green carpet and set up Tobias jacket, but it worked! Thank god there's a Starbucks at our location. What a hell of a night ;-)

The color pink

Greetings! This is Casey again.

Some vigilant readers pointed out that the color of the waistbands is pink and not magenta. As I said: I'm not really watching for these, so please forgive me for this little mistake.

But now to the important things:

Today I quickly scampered away while the humans were sleeping or slacking off (see that earlier blog entry). I met some teams of the other leagues (after luring their humans off into a storage room and locking the door). There are some really nice bots around here and I think you should get to know them too.

The first ones I've met are the ones of the small size league. They are playing soccer as well on an six times four meters big field. When they are playing it's always like watching a sworm of zerglings (or colony of ants if you're more familiar with that). They are playing in teams of 5 robots, which are watched by cameras from above. They are working together with a controlling computer, which is located off of the field. The controller watches the game by using  cameras, gives his team hints about where the ball is located at and where to drive. These robots use wheels for moving and achieve quite a impressive speed and acceleration. Even for their small size.  While chatting, they recommended me to visit the middle size league, which is two floors above ours.

The robots of the middle size league are like the big brothers of the small size league. They are moving on wheels as well, but are playing soccer on a much bigger field. They play in teams of six using a eighteen meters long and twelve meters wide field. The robots  reach quite impressive heights, so they can carry their own PC's and laptops. Each one carries at least one camera, usually providing an 360 degree field of view. Of course they are packing quite a punch, making them shoot the ball through the whole hall from time to time. Their acceleration is impressive as well. During the German Open I watched one of their goalies shredding pieces out of the wooden goal when he decided its better to enter the goal from the solid side instead using the front opening. They are also the first robots who learned to propel the ball up into the air and hit the goal in the upper corner. Hmmm maybe I should try that, too.

I spotted more walking robots as I returned to my floor. The bigger one is playing in the teen size league. We were chatting about several walking techniques and stuff. He told me that the teams in his league are all looking different. They are all designed and build by their human team members and play soccer as well in a field like ours. Hmmm maybe I should ask the biggest one of them to join our team. He covers the whole goal area when he sprawls out.

The smaller one is a member of the kid size league. They are a little bit smaller than the the teen sized ones - at most 30 centimeters high while the teen sized ones might be twice as high. The teen and the middle sized leagues are playing with at most three robots on the field, like we do. I was watching them for a while and I have to admit that they are walking quite fast for two legged robots. For the moment I can't keep up with their speed, but I'm sure I'll improve my way of walking till next year.

OK, I think I should return and wake the humans now. We still got work to do!

Heading into the night ...

Like every night, air condition shuts down and we are heading back to our hotel. It was a interesting day with great results and discussions. Tomorrow is one of the most important matches to reach the quarter final, so wish us good luck!

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Impressions from Tuesday

What you see here ... before breakfast; a crowd watching a game; a NimBro team member watching their robot; argumentation and testing the robot.