Drop-In Results and Final

We got our Drop-In Challenge results today – we finished in eighth place overall. That’s a good result, especially in light of the fact that we had two games where our robot crashed early. If we’d had normal performance in those games we’d probably have cracked the top five.

The final today featured a team I visited this spring – UNSW – against B-Human. Easily the best robot soccer every played. UNSW took a 1-0 lead in the first half after assaulting the B-Human goal for more than eight minutes. B-Human, after losing fairly badly to UNSW last year was playing a very defensive strategy and it showed. B-Human came back with an extremely controversial goal as a UNSW robot was wrongly penalized just as it was about to clear the ball out of their end. It allowed a B-Human robot to steal the ball and score. UNSW came back strong though and scored two goals in the final three minutes. Congratulations to UNSW as they are a very deserving champion in addition to being a great bunch of people.

Bits and Bytes

We just watched a great semi-final match between perennial powerhouses B-Human and Nao-Team HTWK (won by B-Human 2-1). One notable thing about the game was that it was refereed by the two Dans – Zeller and Navarro. Refs are scored after each game at RoboCup and we had the second highest scores of any team. This means that the two Dans will almost certainly be assistant referees during the finals tomorrow.

In other news RoboCup will be in Leipzig next year, Nagano, Japan in 2017, and Sydney, Australia in 2019. No word yet on where it will be in 2018. The RoboCup Trustees have asked each league to submit a proposal for a demo or exhibition on playing outdoors next year. Our league is going to submit a proposal to have a mini-league that would play either outside or in the atrium (glass roof) at the exhibition center in Leipzig. Our team has already volunteered to participate if that happens. Among the rule changes expected for next year are: allowing teams to wear any jerseys they like (no color restrictions), and using a real soccer ball, probably a class 1 ball.

Cerberus Video

Here are some of the key moments from the Cerberus game (they made the quarterfinals by the way), including our missed goal, a great goalie save by us, their amazing goal (off two of our players) and some serious clumping.

Cerberus

Northern Bites 0 – Cerberus 2

In one of the toughest games in my 10 years of RoboCup we lost 2-0 to Cerberus. It was one of those games where everything that could go wrong did. A Game Controller bug right before the start of the game made it appear that we weren’t on wifi and so we had to call timeout. After the timeout it still didn’t appear that we were on wifi, but in fact we were. Then early on in the game we kicked the ball directly on goal and it was rolling to a stop about 3 inches from being a goal, when suddenly it took a hard right turn and roller outside the goal area (the field here is on concrete and includes a number of areas where it isn’t even close to being level). Our robot then got knocked down, and we didn’t score. Our goalie made an absolutely spectacular diving save soon after this and prevented a sure goal. As the first half was winding down Cerberus scored an amazing/improbable goal from nearly the full length of the field that our goalie got a foot on but the ball just managed to trickle in with less than 30 seconds remaining in the half. The second half was somewhat painful to watch as Cerberus often had all five of their robots in a large clump around the ball and our robots struggled to deal with it. Having said that they took advantage of their chances and we did not so they definitely deserved to win. Unfortunately this knocks us out of the tournament, at least for the main competition. We still have drop-in games (games involving teams made up of robots from different teams) and one more challenge to participate in. The result wasn’t what we hoped for but the team did a great job this year and easily could have made it through to the quarterfinals with just a little more luck.

Northern Bites 4 – SPQR 0

Our best match of RoboCup so far featured two really nice goals by us. After some early trouble in our own corner, we moved the ball up the sideline and put a lovely cross right in front of the goal. I would like to say that She-Hulk “swooped in” to put it away, but she  was right there and was a little delicate because of wifi (which was better today, the delays were down to between 3 and 15 seconds). As soon as she was clear she made no mistakes. In the second half we scored a similar goal where we came out on top of a scrum and again put the ball in front of the goal where it was stuffed in. SPQR contributed to the scoring with two own goals which showed off their very dangerous kick. Video to come hopefully.

Northern Bites 0 – Chile 4

We lost our second game 4-0 to UChile. They were a semi-finalist last year and are an excellent team. One of their team members is doing a PhD on robot locomotion and it shows. They walk smoothly and much more quickly than us and their kick is beautiful. For our part we were still hampered by the wifi issues, but less so than in the first game. Our goalie was definitely our star player with a couple of very nice saves and one near miss that would have been spectacular. Video to come.

Northern Bites 1 – Nao Devils 1

Our first game was against longtime friends and rivals Nao Devils from Dortmund, Germany. We have had a lot of great battles over the years (e.g. the semifinals in 2009 that were decided on PKs) and we count them as great friends. Unfortunately for both teams the league is experiencing major wifi issues. In a way, it is worse than if there was no wifi at all, as robots are getting “packets” about a minute or so after they were sent. So all of the information they get is old and therefore wrong. We actually have strategies in place for no wifi, but not so much for this situation.

We had a great start, scoring a goal after a nice long kick early in the first half. At this point things sort of fell apart for both teams as neither realized the goal had occurred and therefore spent the rest of the half fairly confused. The story was similar in the second half. We completely dominated play, but several of our robots were “flipped” and didn’t know which side they were on (the field is symmetric). Normally we deal with this using wifi (e.g. the goalie tells the other players the ball is near it) but with the wifi situation that wasn’t possible. So we ended up scoring an own goal. The Nao Devils felt terrible about this and all actually apologized for tie-ing us.

Our next game is in just over an hour and a half and we are busily scrambling to come up with a strategy to deal with the wifi situation. Sadly (or not), this is the essence of RoboCup – you spend a year getting ready for something and you encounter something completely different.