Ricardo Téllez reports from the Robocup@home in Mexico City!

Ricardo Téllez, our Artificial Intelligence Engineer, visited last month the Robocup@home event in Mexico City on his return trip from Korea (!!!) where he saw a lot of robots performing in a every day home environment.
We will hereby publish his findings in 2 parts. The next part will be posted on our blog next week. You can also visit Ricardo´s own blog.

Robot Robustness

Along the last three days I have been attending to the Robocup competition held in Mexico. This is a competition were robots are confronted with each other in a dynamic scenario, out of the more controlled ones of the labs. There are several leagues in which robots can compete. Concretely, I have been attending the Robocup@Home competition league, devoted to the test of Service Robots in a home scenario.


The Robocup@Home arena during training periods

In the Robocup@Home, robots must perform tasks in a home environment. They have to follow the orders of humans and help them in common situations of daily live activities. Tests, for example, include following the owner across a chaotic environment, bring to the owner some stuff from some place, or help him clean a room.

During the competition of this year, even if the tests are very simple for a human, most of the robots failed from its very beginning. They were not able to perform what they were (supposedly) trained to do.


Classification table after the first stage of the competition

I am sure that most of the teams had their robots working perfectly at their labs before coming to the competition. But their performance at the competition arena was very bad. The question is then, what happened between their working situation at the lab and the failure condition during the competition?

When the teams are asked about why their robot failed, they report that their robot just had a failure in one of its mechanical, electronical or software component. Usually they indicate that they performed a last minute change in order to adapt the robot to the new environment, and that change, triggered those errors.

There are a.o. two interesting points here:

  • First, robots are not able to adapt very well to changes in the environment.
  • Second, a last minute change makes the robot fail, which is a consequence of a lack of robustness in the robot.
  • In this post, I’m going to concentrate on the second point. The robots of the competition are not robust. This means that small changes in the conditions of working, make the robot fail. Those conditions may include last minute changes in the robot code or hardware, but also, and more important than that, changes in conditions including differences between the testing situation at the lab and the testing situation during the competition.


    Cosero robot (one of the more robust) training how to identify and grasp objects at the Robocup@Home


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