Author Archives: ekrob

An epic quest for the traditional Turkish pizza

At approximately 6:30 p.m. Istanbul time, two of our most intrepid team members set out on a desperate quest for the elusive traditional Turkish pizza. The two young men (whose names are not important as their unerring determination, courage, and good looks perfectly exemplify the spirit of the Northern Bites team) set off with empty stomaches and returned with full arms and even ‘fuller’ hearts.

Their spiritual journey began at a local Airport Outlet: having just successfully traversed a death bridge over a stream full of  ravenous Turkish crocodiles, they were in high hopes that their ominous, and already far too stressful task, would be near its end. Their hopes were immediately dashed, high on the 4th floor of this Turkish super structure, by the presence of a single pizza stand: Sbarro’s.  Dismissing it for its ‘Americanimity’ and mildly outrageous prices, the two decided they would rather trek on than return to their waiting team with such uninventive cuisine. The team had had lamb and chicken sandwiches (french fries inside the bun!) for lunch, and these two adventurers refused to be outdone!

Remembering a fortuitous encounter with the leader of the Irish Robocuppers, who mentioned having encountered an exquisite Turkish pizza place during his own dinner-time travels, the two headed west (in the direction of this legendary venue), disappointed but unrelenting.

Alas, they arrived too late! The place, whose menu described pizza kebap (not kebab, they too were surprised), Turkish corner pizza, and doner (lamb?) pizza, had closed at 7, and they had arrived at 7:10. Misfortune sat heavily on their brows as they knew the importance of their swift success: without food Jack’s fingers would become numb, Nate’s eyes would glaze, Dani’s mood would darken, and none would be able to code. Now desperate they decided Sbarro’s was their only, and their last, hope, so they did what any time conscious travelers would do: catch a cab.

Unluckily for them, the name Airport Outlet (the literal title of the establishment housing Sbarro’s), sounds a lot to the Turkish ear like Airport, STEP ON IT. And step on it this driver did, in exactly the wrong direction. After 5 minutes of vigorous pointing and frantic attempts at communication, their point was taken; the car began a slow loop back towards the outlet. Fearing both for their lives, and the digestive fluids of their teammates, the two fled from the taxi and ascended the four steep floors back to Sbarro’s traditional Turkish Pizza.

Resigned to their Sbarro’s fate, they focused now on what they knew would be their greatest challenge: actually placing an order. More vigorous pointing and meaningless grunting ensued until a translator was finally found. An order of 1 cheese, 2 pepperoni, and 1 veggie pizzas later, the two sat down in the mall’s cafeteria realizing too late that they were wearing matching bright turqouise RoboCup 2011 tournament shirts. Feeling the epitome of all sore thumbs, they tolerated with dignity the funny looks and scowls of the restaurant’s patrons. The order finally came, though not without its own confusion: the two American greenhorns were surprised to discover that, in Turkey, pepperoni is traditionally placed on a pizza after it has been cooked. Seeing their ordeal so near to an end, they chose to simply accept this as fact and forge on. They clambered back over the treacherous bridge, battled the temperamental paper bags containing their complementary 4L of Pepsi, and finally made it back to the wide and waiting mouths of their fellow Bites.

The coding has commenced!

Northern Bites arrived bright and early at the Expo Center in Istanbul to begin setting up for RoboCup 2011!  We’ve brought several of our robots to Aldebaran to get them fixed, and are already setting up our wireless network, calibrating cameras, and taking pictures.

Our first game will be against fellow American team WPI on Thursday July 7th at 11:40AM (or 4:40AM EST).

It’s great to be back at RoboCup, and we’re bringing the fire!!

A Tribute…

Aldebaran, the French robot company who builds the Nao, likes to do half-times shows demonstrating the capabilities of the robot.  They have had tai chi routines, acted out scenes from plays, and have added a new dance routine to their repertoire – a tribute to Michael Jackson.  Here is a shot of the robot mid “Billie Jean:”

"...the kid is not my son"

"...the kid is not my son"

NBites survive semifinals – advance to finals

Northern Bites members survived the recent semifinals match without having heart attacks, throwing up, or passing out (barely).  The game was a nail-biter against the Nao Devils from Dortmund, a team who we had previously played and beat 2:0.  However, they had made many fixes to their code in the time since, and did not make it quite so easy on us this time.

The first goal scored was against us… by us.  When we are positioned down in the corner by our goal, we usually just continue to kick it out until a “game stuck” is called, but this time we side kicked it in front of our goal, and proceeded to side kick it in.  Thankfully, we made a valiant return and scored a goal in the correct goal within the first half.  The second half remained scoreless, leaving us with a game tied at 1:1, meaning penalty kicks would decide who advanced.  This was an eerie echo of last year – tied in a semifinal against a German team, with penalty kicks to decide.

In penalty kicks, each team has 5 chances to score a goal against the blue goal, with the opponent’s goalie in it, within one minute.  The Devils went first, easily booting it into our goal at a perfect angle.  We were next, and we made it to the ball, and then just stared.  This is when panic mode set in.  Over the next 4 kicks, our goalie managed to save 3 with its wide stance, the Devils managed to get one more in, and our leading lady Trillian got two shots in.  This meant that the penalty kicks were now tied, 2:2.

This means a sudden death shoot out.  Each team now has 2 minutes, and if both teams score, the winner is determined by who scored the goal faster.  The Devils managed to score a goal in 1:06 seconds, after missing the kick twice.  Trillian shuffled towards the ball, shuffled some more…. kicked…… it went in!!  Then we had to check the time it took.  (If the times were within 2 seconds, we would have to go again.)  We looked at our time…. 0:58 seconds!!!  A difference of 7 seconds won us the match!!

Northern Bites and Nao Devils after the match

Northern Bites and Nao Devils after the match

While a huge relief, it was bittersweet as we have close ties with the Nao Devils, and it was so close.  The next semifinal match between Texas and B-Human is currently being played, and as a soon as a winner is determined, we will be sure to update.

Quarterfinals over – two US teams advance to Semis

The quarterfinals have concluded here in Austria, and the games ended as follows:

Nao Devils: 1, NUBots: 0

NBites: 2, NTU Robot Pal: 1

B-Human: 11, CMU: 1

UTexas: 2, Austrian Kangaroos: 0

This means that we will face off against the Nao Devils at 9:00am (local time), and UTexas will be up against the formidable B-Humans at 10:00am.  The losers of these two matches will compete for 3rd/4th at 12:30pm, and the winners will compete for 1st/2nd at 2:00pm.

NBites has made it to the Semis!

Happy Birthday America!

Happy Birthday America!

The 4th of July has been a good day for the team!  NBites has just come from our 6th game here in Austria, letting in our first goal of the tournament, but still winning 2:1 against NTU Robot Pal (Taiwan)!  This moves us forward to the semi-finals tomorrow at 9:00am, facing the Nao Devils once more.

Northern Bites after winning our match!

Northern Bites after winning our match!

There are two quarterfinals games left today: B-Human v. CMU at 3:00pm and Austrian Kangaroos v. UTexas-Austin at 5:30pm.  We wish the other American teams good luck!

Still Undefeated – NB:3, Chile:0

The Northern Bites are on a roll, recently defeating UChile Kiltros 3:0, making us the winner of our pool, and pitting us against NTU Robot Pal (Taiwan) tomorrow at noon local time.

Maybe the increase in goals is due to support from our visitor from home!

Banner brought by Mrs. Krob!

Banner brought by Mrs. Krob!

NBites qualifies for quarterfinals, winning 3:0 over TJArk

In our fourth game here in Austria, the Northern Bites managed to break our two goal per game streak and score 3 goals against TJArk (China). This, paired with our win from yesterday against the Nao Devils, qualifies us for the quarterfinals round!

Marvin in his "squat-goalie" position"

Marvin in his "squat-goalie" position"

We have one more game in this round of play against UChile Kiltros at 2:05pm local time (8:05am EST). The schedule and updated scores can be found here: