Wednesday 22 July 2015

Robocup 2015: 3rd!

We took the 3rd place of the SPL main competition after a 3:1 victory over UChile. Their team made many improvements over the last years and did quite well against us. We played without our shooting motion again, what turned out to be the right decision.

The finals have also been played. UNSW Australia defended their title with a convincing 3:1 against B-Human.

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Drop-In Challenge: First!

We won the Drop-In Challenge that happened throughout the whole event with an almost perfect rating. We didn't lose a single game and when we won our robot always had a huge part in securing victory.
Final ranking:
1. Nao-Team HTWK 297.5
2. B-Human 250
3. Nao Devils 212.2
4. Berlin United 207
5. NTU RoboPAL 181.4

Tomorrow the top 5 teams will unite against the winner of the main event in the All-star match.

Semi Finals are over..

.. And sadly, we're out. We gave B-Human a really hard time, who easily walked over their prior opponents and also scored the first goal against them during this competition. Unfortunately they did the same to us in return, only twice. We are satisfied with the 1:2 loss nonetheless and hope to win the 3rd place decider tomorrow.

The match started poorly. Our kickoff striker lost the ball almost immediately and B-Human approached our goal rapidly and scored a goal with one of their first few tries. From then on the game was closer, with them playing a bit better. Just when we were close to their goal for a quite long time their goalkeeper kicked the ball across the whole field into our penalty area where our goalkeeper threw himself on the ground for protection. He didn't get up fast enough though, as their striker was ready.

During the 10 minute break we made a major change in our software by disabling our shooting motion. We were wondering the whole event why the robot always took seemingly forever to align himself around the ball before executing his shooting motion, which then often went worse than expected. Just a bit more than 1 hour before the match started Thomas found the reason for this unwanted behavior, but only could fix parts of the problem in time.
With that change, our team put a lot more pressure on B-Human and slowly converged the ball into the direction of their goal. We scored with around 5:30 minutes still on the clock, but weren't able to force a penalty-shootout in the end.

What we can take away is that we found a way to deal with their immensely strong distance shots and that our goalkeeper performed nicely.

Tomorrow we will face U-Chile to compete for the 3rd place trophy and participate in the "Realistic Ball Challenge". The finals will be between the defending champion UNSW Australia and B-Human

Semi Finals!

We won our quarter final match against Berlin United with a comforting 6:0. We encountered some unforeseen problems, but nothing that put us behind too much. The 1st half ended 2:0, including a ball that crossed the goal line 1 second after the referee blew the whistle. This small portion of bad luck got equalized later when the referee made an error and gave us a goal that shouldn't have counted. In this case, the opposing goalkeeper touched the ball with his hands while getting up, what resulted in an own goal. According to the rules, the ball should have been placed where it was before.

Anyhow, we are happy we advanced to the semi finals once again where we will meet B-Human, the team that managed to beat us in 4 finals since 2013.

Breakfast conversations

Last tinkering on strategy. We are prepared!

Monday 20 July 2015

Walking on

We're back in the hotel to have a final talk about our latest tests and how we will approach the quarter finals.

In the evening we participated in the "Many Carpets Challenge". The task was to enable walking on 3 different carpets, touching a ball and move it into a single goal that's placed on the rug, all within 1 minute. Touching the ball would give 0.5 points, kicking it out of the field another 0.5 or scoring a goal 2.5 points. Thomas started working on a goal detection after we won the "Corner Kick Challenge" to give us a shot at 1st place in the overall technical challenge.
He wasn't able to finish it in a fashion he was content with, what lead him to the primary strategy of just walking towards the ball and dribbling it outside of the rug. Our robot did that very quickly on every single rug, prompting smiles on our faces. However, Matthias from Nao-Devils, who handled the challenge, gave us a confused and disappointed look after every try. He expected more from us. After we finished, we learned that kicking the ball down from the carpets only gives an additional 0.5 points if it leaves the ground line. Well, we received 1.5 points in total, half of what we expected. There is one technical challenge left and we'll make sure to read the rules more carefully.

Groupstage is over, we finished first!

We are happy to announce that we won our round robin pool with an unexpected goalscore of 31:0 in total. We had our first match of the day against 2012's World Champions Austin Texas and managed to beat them 4:0. The game was a lot harder than the result suggests, as their robots were on the offense most of the time. Our goalkeeper had to save the 0:0 twice before we had our first chance of the game, which we immediately used to score the first goal. Relieved and feeling really lucky we went into the 2nd half, from where on the game went completely in our favor.

For the 2nd game, we faced MRL, whom we met last time during the Iran Open. Both teams had 9 points prior to the match, with us having the better goal difference. MRL had some problems, so we beat them 8:0, which wouldn't happen otherwise.

We will take the rest of the day to prepare for some upcoming challenges as well as the quarter finals tomorrow. Our opponents will be the winner of Nao-Devils Dortmund vs. Berlin United. Either of those teams will give us a tough challenge, but for now we're confident to make it through to the semis.

Sunday 19 July 2015

A look back on the last 2 days

We are sorry for the lack of updates, but both, our internet connection and time are limited. The first actual day of the competition is almost finished by now and we are very happy about how things are going.
For the setup days we've stayed at the venue except for the times we grabbed something to eat. During those days, we had a test match against Nao-Devils Dortmund and assisted them scoring an own goal with a bicycle kick. As far as we know this has never happened before and we'll probably post a video from that scene within the upcoming days.

One time, when we went out and ate at a Chinese fast food place across the street, the whole restaurant staff was watching us eat and some other customers took photos. In addition, it's always fun to see a team member bite on something spicier than he is used to.
The conference hall get's closed somewhere between 10 and 11 pm, so we had some time for Chinese beer, which is lighter on alcohol and milder on taste than German beer. Despite closing the day out this way we still manage to get up in time to grab breakfast before heading out. The longest part of that short walk often is the elevator ride from the 36th floor, which can take up to 5 or 10 minutes.

Recent Game Results

A quick update on our results so far for the people at home that are eagerly awaiting them:

We WON the Corner Kick Challenge yesterday!
We managed to score a total of 4 goals resulting in 5 points. BHuman, the 2nd place in this challenge, scored 2 goals, resulting in 3 points.

We also had 2 main competition games today in our Group B:
We first played against Linköping, a new team from Sweden. Unfortunately, the team wasn't able to put any robots on the field.
We ended up scoring 10:0.

Next we played against Austrian Kangaroos where we scored 9:0.

Tomorrow we will play against MRL as well as Austin Villa, the World Champion from 2012.

You can find the schedule here: (China is 6h ahead of Germany)

We made it to China!

The journey to China took us a bit longer than we anticipated. However, in the end we're all alive and well and so far we had a great time here. The first flight was fine, considering we flew all night. In Beijing however, the real adventure started. Arriving an hour late already, we had to undergo long lasting security checks and arrived at the gate one hour after the scheduled boarding time. Unfortunately the delay was too big and the gate was closed by the time we reached it. All of us and two other Robocup teams were stranded at Beijing airport for the day.

Fortunately for us, our teamleader's wife is Chinese. She was accompanying us and took over talking to the airport personnel in order to get a replacement flight as soon as possible. In the end we waited around eight hours at the airport and arrived at our hotel after midnight local time.

After some short, but much needed sleep we went to the Robocup venue. At the venue Tobias wanted to examine the SPL area as part of his duties as an organizer. He suggested some adjustments to the venue which the helpful staff was happily picking up, resulting in some important improvements.

During our free afternoon we took the opportunity to visit the city and especially the biggest temple in Hefei. However, upon arrival, we learned that the temple was demolished to make place for yet another skyscraper. (We could see many of those in construction during the ride.) We had a look at a smaller temple with an exhibition about a man who played a great role in transitioning China into a modern country. The local people aren't used to seeing Europeans, so some of them approached us for a photograph. We obliged happily as it is always a nice way to exchange a few words.

So far we are really enjoying our stay and will be back soon for an update regarding the first setup day of the competition.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

On the way to the train station

We are starting our journey and heading out for China. We don't yet know if we have the possibility to keep you updated due to the internet restriction. We will try our best.

Robocup 2015 in China to begin soon

We're back for our coverage of this years Robocup event in Hefei, China, the equivalent of the world championship in robot football. Right now most of the team is gathered in our lab, preparing for the long trip, which will take us via the airport in Frankfurt onto a 13 hour long flight to China, where we will arrive tomorrow at around 3pm local time.

We are very excited and hope for a great event!