Tribotix’s Founder and Managing Director, Peter Turner, was on the Organising Committee for the 2019 RoboCup in Sydney looking after the Humanoid League (he’s in the feature picture, 4th from the left in the back row) …. this BLOG post has been put together by Peter with some of the pics that he took over the event.
RoboCup 2019 – Sydney Australia
by Peter Turner
I’ve been helping the NUBots, from the University of Newcastle, since they joined the Humanoid League in 2012, before this I helped out when I could …. particularly in 2006 when we built a Robot Bear as a possible replacement for the Sony Aibo in the Standard Platform League (SPL). As RoboCup 2019 was to be back in Australia the NUBots were asked to provide someone to be on the Organising Committee for the Humanoid League. So that none of the team members or academics needed to be distracted by this role I volunteered, thinking it would be an interesting experience. Taking this workload away from the NUBots would be my contribution to the team in 2019.
The Organising Committee started meeting in September 2018, initially these meetings were monthly but as the competition got closer these moved to fortnightly and then weekly. My role on the Organising Committee was basically to liaise with the Humanoid League committee to ensure that when everyone arrived in Sydney in July 2019 that all would be ready and the games could commence hassle-free. ICMS Australia were contracted by UNSW to run the event, and they did nearly all the work …. all we had to do was tell them what we wanted, and provided there was enough budget available they would arrange for this to happen.
Our main job was making sure that we had enough playing fields, and as it turned our the fields were the major cost issue we encountered setting up the Humanoid League. In 2019, for the first time, the Adult Size League was moving to a 16m x 11m field (playing field 14m x 9m) – in previous years this had been the same as the Kids Sized & Teen Sized field 10.4m x 7.4m (playing field 9m x 6m) …. this is pretty close to being twice the size of the field used in 2018. RoboCup 2019 was held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney, the floor in the ICC is concrete with a matrix of electrical pits (with metal covers) spread throughout the floorplan. So the fields consisted of sheets of 12mm plywood (to elevate the issue of the ‘holes’ created by the electrical pits) which were then covered in 30mm long artificial turf. The lines were painted on with a normal line-marking machine used in outdoor sports with a white paint that was flexible enough to move as the artificial turf moved. Another innovation in 2019 was the introduction of fields that were in natural light (i.e. near windows) to see how the image processing of the robots could cope with the varying light conditions.
We also had to ensure that we had enough space and tables allocated for each team to work on their robots before and during the event. Network cables were run to each table – using WiFi access points during the competition is forbidden, the computers that run the game control software use WiFi to communicate with the robots during play …. so any interference is an issue. These were the major things we needed to do before the competition, there were many many other small jobs like sourcing 50% while soccer balls in various sizes, installing O/S’s on game controller PC’s, designing/building the mechanisms used to scrutinise the robots before the competition, etc., etc. …. and of course making sure that everyone had everything they needed to help them prepare to compete. The Humanoid League committee did all the game schedules, referee allocations ….
Day 0 (1st July, 2019) – Event Build and Set Up
The committee members turned up on site a day before the official start of RoboCup to make sure things were going OK and answer any last-minute questions, actually we arrived a day earlier this year just to make sure everything was on track.
The pictures below show the event being constructed and setup. Our main task was to make sure that the fields were the right size, that the fields were being placed where they needed to be, the tables and chairs were ready to go in. There were no major issues or problems, only small issues with gaps in the artifical turf that had to be patched up – but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. When I picked up my ‘official’ name badge I didn’t even notice that ‘Newcastle’ had been spelt incorrectly – fatigue had already set in, and it wasn’t until the next day someone pointed this out.
Day 1 & 2 (2nd & 3rd July, 2019) – Team Set Up days
Days 1 & 2 are the team setup days …. teams are allocated working spaces near the playing fields they will be competing on and arrive early on day 1 to register and start unloading and setting up their equipment. Some robots are shipped in pieces (as they are too big to be shipped) and must be reassembled and re-commissioned. Once the robots are in a working state they need to be calibrated to operate at the new venue, as no two venues are ever the same. The main things that need to be done are:
- image-processing calibration – each venue has a unique set of lighting conditions and the robots must have their image processing system calibrated for the new venue. In 2019 fields with ‘natural lighting’ were introduced to see how robots could cope with varying lighting conditions (as they would if they were playing outside). This created unique challenges for the robots in the Humanoid League and Standard Platform League.
- walking gaits – each venue also has different playing surfaces. In 2019 the playing fields consisted of 12mm plywood sheets covered by 30mm artificial turf, sometimes the artificial turf is laid straight onto the concrete. So the robots walking gaits, kicks, etc. need to be fine-tuned to account for the new fields.
- putting it all together – once the image processing has been calibrated and the robots are moving around the field as expected the next stage of setting up involves localisation, i.e. identifying the characteristics of the playing field (lines and goals) and being able to work out where you are physically located on the field. When this has been done the final step is to test the robots behaviour, how it will react in certain situations – will it move towards the ball or between the ball and the goal it is protecting, will it kick the ball or will it dribble the ball and try to retain possession …. all these scenarios need to be tested before playing a match.
- practice games – if the robots are working properly and ready for games, then it is possible to find another team in a similar position and play a practice match, testing all the set up in a match situation is ideal …. but really depends on how many issues are encountered during setup.
Teams work very hard during these days, putting in long hours – in Sydney teams were allowed in the venue from 9am~10pm (or until security kicked them out) …. so we were there from 8am~11pm every day of the event – long long days. Some pictures from the set up days are shown below …. the last photo shows Professor Claude Sammut speaking at the Opening Ceremony, which is held on the eve of the competition matches. Claude was the chairperson of the local Organising Committee and has been a RoboCup Trustee since 2012.
Day 3 (4th July, 2019) – Competition Day #1
The competition starts on Day 3 in all RoboCup leagues …. each league runs in a different format – depending on the challenges and objectives. The Humanoid League that I was helping with starting with Group Matches, similar to the Football World Cup. Teams were seeded and played each team in the group once to determine the standings and who would move into the next round.
Day 4 (5th July, 2019) Competition Day #2
The competition continues, and each league has it’s own way of determining the best team withing that league. Some leagues that run like conventional football tournaments may start their quarterfinals on Day 4 – this really depends on how many matches have been played and how many more need to be scheduled. Day 4 sees the competition get a little more serious, in the football style competitions the games get closer and harder fought …. and because of this the matches get closer and are more entertaining.
Day 5 & 6 (6th & 7th July, 2019), Semi-final and Grand Final Days
The last 2 days of RoboCup are when the BIG matches take place and the competitions determine a winner …. these matches tend to draw the biggest crowds as well. As in a conventional football tournament, if it is a draw after normal time, then extra time is played and then if it is still a draw the match is decided by a penalty shootout – so teams must have specific software for their attackers to score from the penalty spot as well as specific code for a goalkeeper in a penalty situation. Teams that have been eliminated generally continue to work on their robots and their software for next year, it’s a perfect opportunity to test new ideas under event conditions …. so there are no early marks for finishing the competition early.
ALL OVER ….
As soon as the grand final has been decided, the presentations are held and then it’s time to pack up and clear the venue …. this happens pretty quickly.
RoboCup is a great event, I’ve been lucky enough to go to a couple before of RoboCup before Sydney (Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2013) and Hefei, China (2015)) – teams form friendships, and there is a lot of comradery between all competitors …. it’s a great event to participate in.
My highlights from RoboCup Sydney 2019 were from the Humanoid League (this is where I spend most of my time):
- The Quarter Final in the Kids Sized League between Rhoban (France) and MRL HSL (Iran) …. this was a great game, it was tied after normal time – 3:3 after extra time and Rhoban won the Penalty Shootout 7:4. Rhoban went on to win the Kids Sized League, and this match was worthy of being the Grand Final, and
- During the Grand Final for the Kids Sized League Rhoban (France) performed an actual throw-in – the first time this has been performed in a match. When the ball goes out, normally the team with the ‘throw in’ will kick the ball back into play, but this time the robot walked to the sideline, picked up the ball and threw the ball to the feet of one of it’s team members …. the crowd was more excited by this than any of the goals that were scored during the actual Grand Final – it was amazing to see.
Looking forward to RoboCup 2020 in Bordeaux, France.