After what can only be described as one of the busiest weeks of our lives, the WMR team has returned to the UK after an exhilarating week in Germany competing in the RoboCup German Open “Rescue Robot” category. This competition pits the best robots in the world against each other in a simulated disaster environment where you must control your robot remotely to navigate difficult terrain, correctly identify victims and hazard signs in a time sensitive situation. Keeping your nerve when things go wrong is crucial for a successful outcome.
One of the 'Victims' in the arena with different visual signs requiring identification
The team started the first of two setup days with limited knowledge of the robot with very few parts functional: No cameras, CO2 detection, sign detection, gripper control or mapping were available. However after two intense days wiring and programming everything was back up and functional for the first time this year.
WMR robot being prepared for round 1 - Thermal imaging, CO2, front and downwards facing cameras
Unfortunately due to a lack of understanding of the rules and competition several mistakes were made in the first two rounds leading to only 3 victims being identified on day 1. The start to day two was not successful either – due to the step-field de-tracking the robot the flippers were tensioned too much preventing the tracks from rotating freely. This caused the motors to overheat in round 3 and only a single victim was scored.
The notorious stepfield with two red victims located within it
However after a dramatic turnaround everything worked in round 4 (http://youtu.be/8LKRoPzxzqY). We managed to find 5 victims – 2 in the orange arena that tests the robots ‘modest mobility’ and 3 in the red arena which tests the robots ‘advanced mobility’! We ended the round with a staggering 224 points – 1 point from the team who got the most points in a single round with two robots working simultaneously.
WMR's first competition map with route through the arena
This left the team in 4th place, just missing out on the finals however with 4 points going into the mobility final against the other two teams qualifying who only had 1 each. However reliability issues and communication issues during the final prevented the robot from performing placing it in 2nd place in mobility loosing out by only 1 point!
Now with a little more development and a year until the next competition the team can work on improving this to get it fully functioning for 2015! Thanks to all our sponsors for making this trip happen and good luck to next years team.
WMR Project Manager 2013/14