We’ve done it! We spent more than four days with five team members and our robots at the 3rd European RoboCupJunior 2022 & European MSL Championship 2022 Guimarães (Portugal). Exciting to go back to tournament after more than two years. However, the initial hesitation to go has given way to a feeling of satisfaction – we're glad we went.
First of all, the weather was very nice! The organization was great, Professor Fernando Ribeiro from the University of Minho, is a RoboCupper and host in heart and soul who wanted to do everything to get the Middle Sized League back to play at its tournament. His own team has not played for several years, mainly due to lack of money. We showed him that you can also build robots that can play with a limited budget. We are glad we were able to support and increase his enthusiasm!
Second, we were able to put our new platform to the test. Because we had few matches because of Covid-19, there was no big stick and the build-up took longer than planned. However, we were almost done with our “number 4”, and dared it. In the last months kicker, ball handler and I/O have been added and of course our new AAEON Boxer PC with Nvidia Jetson GPU. Initially only for object detection with AI, but Noah eventually added our omni-vision and eventually the rest of the robot software! So only one controller. We were also assisted by VDL CropTeq with the procurement of parts. From the moment the new platform was in the field, it impressed us and certainly the other spectators. “Your new star” the robot was christened by our friends.
Thirdly, we were able to take a good look at team behavior in a real match with our old robots. Prior to the match, the robots had been refurbished as best as we could, preliminary under Roy's guidance. After a few days of sweating, the robots all turned out to be competition-worthy, although not all of them were in perfect shape. They were able to play! Rob still pulled some hairs out trying to figure out and fix several tactical decisions that didn't work well. There is now again up-to-date knowledge of the behavior of the robots with more up-to-date overview of the software. Hopefully we can make improvements together as soon as possible.
The setting with just one other team worked out well. Despite the big difference in level, Tech United still had a worthy opponent which enabled them to test their new developments. In the four days we made progress again, as we have been used to in previous tournaments. Between the matches there was time to research, improve and test, but also to consult with Tech United about technology. At other tournaments this was not always the case; everyone was always focused on the matches, and winning. However, RoboCup has chosen the football game as a standard problem, in order to stimulate development in robotics and AI. Winning a match shows that at some point you do better than other teams, but exchanging ideas and setting innovation directions is just as important. When you read the newspaper, you would sometimes get the impression that winning is most important. No, moving forward together as quickly as possible, that's what counts. The more teams, the more people, the more ideas, the more innovation. Moving forward we did!
Several photos of the article are published by the organization of European RoboCup 2022