And the winner is Robotino!

Convincing performance at the Robocup in Graz


Teams competing at the Festo Hockey Challenge Cup, held within the framework of the Robocup at the beginning of July in Graz, came from six universities in Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland and Tunisia. The fact that the German team from the university in Osnabrück won against tough opponents from Cairo with a penalty shot was exciting for the fans, but it wasn’t the most outstanding event of the competition.

Finally a robust platform
The teams’ realisation that they had found a competition platform in Robotino which is extremely well suited for this physically intensive, fast paced game, was the most important discovery, and was decisive for the unbelievable commitment demonstrated by the teams. In the end, everyone agreed: “It was as if we had played ourselves!”

At speeds of up to 10 kilometres per hour, Robotino (3 per team) dribbled across the field and withstood the hardest of body checks. When everything was over, not a single robot complained of a broken chassis or defective sensors.

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Speed is not enough
The competition rules restrict the dimensions of the robots with regard to both diameter and height. The dribbling mechanism was predefined, thus assuring equal opportunity for all. The teams had leeway with regard to the integration of new sensors, the selection of programming tools and the choice of a strategy.

In addition to robustness and speed, Robotino provided the decisive freedom with its mechanical and electronic interfaces. It was exciting to see how the teams attempted to further develop the platform, more or less overnight, in order to secure a competitive advantage.

Initially, the team from Osnabrück was at an advantage thanks to a web cam with a 360° view. With a very small budget and unbelievable creativity, the Hungarian hockey team from Budapest succeeded in standing up to their opponents with a solution they developed themselves overnight.

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They sent their robots onto the field with a LabView application. The ability to transmit a different strategy to each of the three players depending upon the situation was an expression of the special artificial intelligence developed by the team, and in the end it was a decisive advantage.

Lots of videos can be viewed at YouTube that show fast and realistically hockey is played at this competition. Puck travel time from one’ own to the opponent’s goal was often less than 4 seconds. Goal shots were plainly discernible as such, and didn’t fail all too infrequently due to that well known, overly accurate shooting after which the puck only hits the goal post. (A visit to YouTube is worthwhile – just enter the search term “hockey challenge cup”.)

Brilliant prospects
The general feeling was that “no robot sport competition has ever come as close to an actual game as this one with regard to rules, tactics and dynamics”. There was no stumbling, falling, waiting and fumbling ... the artificial intelligence of the robots was cunning, and the innovative spirit of the teams was implemented in the form of tactical masterpieces in no time at all.

If we succeed in turning the Festo Hockey Challenge Cup into a permanent part of the Robocup, we’ll not only be able to look forward to exciting world championships next year, we’ll be able to expect surprising developments in the field of artificial intelligence and mechatronics as well.

Anyone interested in contacting the teams should get in touch with Festo Didactic at did@de.festo.com.

Indietro