Category Archives: Lab

Koala Backpacks

I drove south for an hour last night to enjoy the company of some RoboCuppers. I met up with Todd Hester of Austin Villa as well as the RoboCup “celebrity” (so says an Australian newspaper) Michael Quinlan who took me to their robotics lab. There I was introduced to the (in)famous Mohan. After some segway play, we went out for burgers, drinks, and old fashioned nerd talk. I met some other members from the UT Comp Sci labs and even saw a man wearing a Koala backpack. It was a short trip to the city, as now I am back at home. I may even log some work hours for the trip, since discussion was had about the beginning of a collaborative research paper.

Line Work

So the the real focus of our team right now is localization: teaching the dog to know where it is on the field. A critical part of localization is a decent Vision system: having the dog to correctly identify landmarks. We’re pretty good at identifying big things like the posts and goals (though the new goals are giving us issue), but we’re pretty lousy at detecting line intersections on the field.

Here are the various issues plaguing our line recognition:
* Thresholding. The way we threshold–identifying RoboCup colors from the millions of colors that show up on the Aibo’s camera–heavily relies on segmentation. I don’t have time to explain segmentation, but let’s just say that it’s great for every kind of color object except for really small white sections that make up the lines.
* Landmark Detection. We can identify line as individual segments with some success–we can’t identify when they intersect. That is to say we can recognize two lines on the screen, but can’t recognize that they form a corner of the field. This should be one of the easier tasks.
* The lines and center circle in the lab. The physical lines on our Lab’s field are pretty yellowish (made from masking tape) and the center circle isn’t actually a circle. You have to stand way back to mistake it for a circle. It’s instead just a circle-ish grouping of line segments.
* The camera settings. We are forced to use the most blurry settings — which make the field brighter — because the lighting in our lab is so dim. Our lighting upgrade may still be months away.
* We don’t have a PS3 or even a Wii.

All Systems Functional

Today is a momentous day. Every single one of our computers in the robotics lab is functional. Wow–what a day. Yes, that new g4 laptop that Prof. Toma was using and even that pissy G5 in the corner can all now compile, edit, and ship off our code.

Use this thread to emphasis how great we are.

Meet the new members of the Family

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Meet the two most recent additions to the Northern Bites family: two fiesty new aibos from the ERS-7M3 line.

We have named them… ‘aibo13’ and ‘aibo14’.

I will probably setup one of them to walk around the lab this weekend a blog things–that’s right, they can blog too. And speak spanish–it’s better than I can do.