The Games Begin

Things are a bit chaotic in Brazil. There have been many problems with getting the league setup. The fields were not finished being constructed until yesterday. Not all of the fields have working wifi (and “working” is overstating it for the ones that do). The lighting is awful. There has only been internet for about 1/2 day so far. I guess everyone in Brazil was a bit too focussed on World Cup and forgot about the more important “Cup” – RoboCup.

We have two games today, the first is against the Austrian Kangaroos (from Vienna), the second against Edinferno. Both teams have made the top 8 in recent years so they should be tough games.

The schedule can be found here. Results can be found here,


So why is natural light so hard for a robot? It starts with the fact that they have cameras. And like any camera, they function best when the light is even and predictable. Here is a shot taken by a robot at the venue that demonstrates:

Natural Light.

Look at the goal post on the left. It looks mostly white but is actually yellow. People are really good at figuring out that it is actually a yellow goal post, but it isn’t easy at all for a robot.

In Brazil

The team has arrived in Brazil and are on site. Conditions are less than ideal – lots of natural light, not much artificial light, no internet currently . . . But that’s exactly why we do robotics. Should be a good challenge.

The Venue.

As the world cup approaches

Brazil has been at center-stage for the past few weeks as the soccer (or futbol if you prefer) world cup has been played across the country. Well move over soccer, here comes ROBOCUP! The Northern Bites are going to Brazil baby!

Tonight is the last night the Northern Bites have in our summer residence. Tomorrow with the supervision of Chowndawgg we will be packing up the essentials and moving all of the rest of our gear to Searles Science Building. We’ve spent the summer sweltering in the old shoe-repair shop in Fort Andross getting our robots ready for competition. Over the past year the focus has been upon improving our behaviors and features such as kickoff plays, a shared ball and roleswitching have been implemented. It was fortunate that we were afforded an extra month of summer to work as compared to last year because we had big plans, and they’ve come together! On Thursday morning the team will be departing Brunswick for Boston with a final destination of Joao Pessoa in mind.

With the team this summer we have two seniors: Josh Imhoff and Daniel Zeller (captains); three juniors: Nikki Morin, Dan Navarro and Megan Maher (Newbies [though just barely]); and one bonus: Lizzie Mamantov (NorthernBum, Bowdoin class of 2013). Unfortunately due to reasons our coach and mentor Eric Chown (Chowndawgg) will not be able to join us.

We’re very excited about the competition, and hope to do right by our old teammates who brought us to the place we are today (EJ: don’t worry about calls from Josh about loc, international bills are out of our paygrade; we’ll be in touch to get your skype username! NOT A JOKE). We’ll be keeping everyone up-to-date here on the blog, but more information about the competition can be found on the official website, along with game scores, standings and (hopefully) livestreams.

Now it’s time for us to get back to bug squashing! Here’s the state of the lab right now:



P.S. Special thanks to Robocup friend Addie Brown who baked us some wonderful chocolate chip cookies to help us get through the long night ahead!


World Science Festival

The Northern Bites were recently invited to the World Science Festival at NYU in NYC. We did some demoes and some hands-on activities with kids. It was a lot of fun. The crowds grew throughout the day until at the last demo of the day we actually ran into problems. Parents were fighting with parents over who should be where so that their kids could see the show. It got bad enough that the organizers had us stop the demo early because they were afraid for the safety of the kids up front. Sort of like being at a Who concert in the 1970s except with robots.

On stage at the WSF.

Where we started

Here’s a blast from the past. An image of our first U.S. Open in 2005 in Atlanta. Greydon Foil (who wrote the entire code base) is in the foreground and Bowdoin alum Doug Vail is on the right (he was on the CMU team at this time). Things looked a little different back then.