I am a bit late getting this blog post written, but I have been extremely busy with the release of my first commerical product, GP Power Tools, as well as other development work that was pushed back to allow me to complete the product launch.
So, on top of all the development work I have been doing, I have been continuing with my volunteer role as mentor for the All Saints’ College Robotics Club. The club meets after school every Friday afternoon during term time for one and a half to two hours and currently has about 30 students attending.
The results of the last year’s worth of work by the students was put to the test at the RoboCup Junior Australia 2015 WA State Championships held at Curtin University Stadium on the 7th and 8th of August.
The students from the secondary school compete in the Rescue and Dance Challenges of the competition using Lego Mindstorms NXT and EV3 sets. You don’t have to use Lego, but it a great framework to start with. The Mindstorms graphical development tools provide an entry point into computer programming without the steep learning curve that more traditional languages have. There is also a Soccer Challenge, but we don’t take part in that challenge.
This year we went to the competition with seven teams:
- Pickle Jar Productions (Josh, Megan, Noah, Sarith and my son Rohan) with Priscilla the Gorilla
- Team Sonic (Janardan (Jay), Liam and Mason)
- WalkingHam (Charlton and Joel)
- Benzetomi (Ben, Remi and Thomas)
- Spinner (Anthony)
- BEN (Pragash)
- Vindaloo (Disura)
Friday – Qualifying Rounds
As usual the first day of the competition is chaotic madness. The teams from Scitech and RoboCup and all the volunteers do the best they can, but when there over 600 competitors from primary and secondary schools from all over the state it is hard. The competition this year had grown by almost 50% and included 97 registered rescue teams and 60 dance teams.
The Rescue Challenge this year introduced some additional challenge tiles which weren’t revealed until the day of the competition. The two challenge tiles were a straight line with an extra wide black section and a straight line with a section of silver tape. Both of these needed additional programming on the day to ensure they could be traversed. Normally, when both sensors see black, it means there is an intersection with a shortcut and when the sensor see silver, it means that the rescue tile has been located. The competitors would have to ensure that their robots understood the difference and could continue line following.
This year Tim Schmitz and the Scitech team had organised new course tiles. They had printed directly onto white plastic sheets and the tiles were fantastic. They had also made sure that the green for the shortcuts and rescue tile was the original deep green colour that can be easily correctly identified by the Lego colour sensors. The only issue was that the mats were so clean and shiny that the light readings for the white and silver strip were almost the same. This made it hard for the robots to distinguish and some had issues with false detection of the silver strip or being unable to see the silver strip.
After a tough day in the Rescue challenge, All Saints’ College had all 3 Open Rescue teams in the top 8 qualifiers for the finals and Team Sonic qualified for the Secondary Rescue finals.
In the Open Dance challenge, there were a number of primary school teams that had to move from Primary Dance to Open Dance because the Primary and Secondary Dance divisions had a two controller limit. This did mean that there were primary students competing in the same division as secondary students. That said, there were some great performances during the qualifying rounds.
Here is the qualifying performance from All Saints’ College:
RoboCup Junior WA 2015 Open Dance State Championships – Pickle JAR Productions – Qualifying (direct link)
After a tense wait that evening, we received email and website confirmation that Priscilla the Gorilla was through to the finals.
Saturday – State Finals
Saturday was much less chaotic with the only the top 24 rescue teams (8 from each division) and 23 dance teams making it through to the finals.
After a discussion with the Rescue challenge co-ordinator the evening before, we brought in two sets of riser blocks (my personal set and the set I made for All Saints’ College) so that the would have enough for the day’s competition. During the discussion, I also suggested using a shinier silver tape to make the silver strip easier to differentiate from the white.
To give you an idea of the difficulty level, below are the three courses used in the finals playoff rounds of the Open Rescue competition.
The courses for Rescue were still very difficult with only a few robots completing the challenge with a successful rescue. Below are some examples from Team Sonic (Secondary) and BEN (Open).
RoboCup Junior WA 2015 Secondary Rescue State Championships – Team Sonic – Run 1 (Direct Link)
RoboCup Junior WA 2015 Secondary Rescue State Championships – Team Sonic – Run 2 (Direct Link)
RoboCup Junior WA 2015 Open Rescue State Championships – BEN – Run 1 (Direct Link)
RoboCup Junior WA 2015 Open Rescue State Championships – BEN – Run 2 (Direct Link)
Note that Secondary Rescue needs to rescue the can, by demonstrating control of the can and removing it from the green “chemical spill” area, when Open Rescue needs to place the can on the orange block. Open Rescue now can also have an empty black can which does not need to be rescued, but adds to the complexity. To get full points, the robot needs to regain the line on exit and start line following.
After a series of playoff rounds and then the finals to determine the final placings, Team Sonic came second in Secondary Rescue and BEN came second in Open Rescue. A fantastic effort in a competition that was much harder than previous years.
Over in the dance competition, Rohan and his Pickle Jar Productions teammates performed again. The performance was better than the qualifying performance with the exception that Priscilla stopped turning to face the audience due to some malfunction.
RoboCup Junior WA 2015 Open Dance State Championships – Pickle JAR Productions – Finals (Direct Link)
After the performance, the team took the robots up to the judges so they could see them close up and something fell out of the robot. That’s when they found the cause of the malfunction.
After the judges had deliberated amongst themselves and tallied the scores, we had the closing ceremony with the awards presentation and were very pleased to find out that Pickle Jar Productions won the very close Open Dance competition.
Well done to all the competitors and the place getters , including our teams from All Saints’ College.
As always, a special thanks to our sponsors (Asphaltech, Rotary Club of Melville and Computelec), volunteer mentors (including me, Aaron, Nick and CJ) and a huge thank you to Donna Hatton (Help Desk Officer) from All Saints’ College who is the driving force behind the robotics club.
For the previous posts on the RoboCup robotics competition see:
- Robocup Junior WA 2010 Rescue Premier State Champions
- Robocup Junior WA 2011 Rescue Premier State Champions
- Robocup Junior Australia 2011 National Championships and more
- RoboCup Junior WA 2012 Rescue Premier & Senior Dance State Champions
- RoboCup Junior Australia 2012 National Championships and more
- RoboCup Junior WA 2013 Rescue Premier & Senior Dance State Champions
- RoboCup Junior Australia 2013 National Championships and more
- RoboCup Junior Australia 2014 WA State Championships
- RoboCup Junior Australia 2014 National Championships
The RoboCup Junior Australian Open Championships (the Nationals) are in South Australia on the 25th to 27th September. Sadly I cannot attend as I will be in the USA at that time.
This article was originally posted on http://www.winthropdc.com/blog.