Homer Team (University of Koblenz-Landau) and CATIE Robotics Team, both with TIAGo robots, made it to the top of the most challenging competition in robotics, the RoboCup 2019! It was a week of nerves, pressure, and teamwork for the roboticists from all over the world who participated in RoboCup 2019 Sydney.
The @Home League consists of having robots autonomously helping in a domestic setting. This RoboCup 2019 edition had a new Handbook that classified the @Home League tasks into two categories: Housekeeper and Party Host. How was it for the teams to compete in one of the most ambitious challenges in robotics? Here’s what they shared with us!
Homer Team beats all records and wins RoboCup 3rd time in a row
Homer Team leader, Raphael Memmesheimer, highlights the variety of tasks their team was able to achieve: “From serving drinks in a restaurant over taking out the trash or filling the dishwasher, up to learning by demonstration, contact enforced toilet cleaning and semantic exploration. You barely see robots fulfilling such a high variety of tasks”, notes Memmesheimer.
“Competing against the Pumas from Mexico in the finals, our performance – and also being already 1170 points ahead – lead us to the first place. Our friends from the new French team CATIE achieved third place. Conclusion: we made a hat-trick and are now the most successful ‘at-home’ team of the whole RoboCup. Yay!”, Homer Team states in their blog.
CATIE Team climbs the podium on its 1st RoboCup World Championship
CATIE Team leader, Remi Fabre, is happy about the “pretty neat technical advances” their team showed at RoboCup 2019, even with the issues they had to overcome. “Given the two and a half days of competition that were missed because of the transporter issues, succeeding the “Take Out The Garbage” task was a relief. We had just received our TIAGo (we call it Epock now) and had no time to adapt to the competition’s apartment. Also, we’re the only team that managed to take both garbage bags at once, which gave bonus points”.
“I’m very proud of the progress the team has made in one year”, says Fabre, “We can solve tasks involving Natural Language Understanding, autonomous navigation, grasping and general perception with relatively short development time spans.” This is one of the best parts of the RoboCup: it pushes researchers to their limits in different robotics areas at the same time, which ends up raising the overall level of robotics robustness. CATIE Team ended up at the 3rd position in the overall RoboCup 2019 @Home classification!
How winner teams used TIAGo robot at the RoboCup 2019
The TIAGo platform enables teams to integrate their developments in AI, perception, manipulation, and navigation straight away. CATIE Team stands out how they used one of the TIAGo modular optionals, the F/T sensor, during their performance: “We rely a lot on the force/torque sensor in the wrist. For example, we use it to detect abnormal forces, create a zero gravity behavior and weight objects”, says Fabre.
Here’s what Homer Team told us about TIAGo performance: “TIAGo supported us heavily in mobile manipulation tasks. That’s due to its good controller implementation and the hardware design. We can not think of a better mobile manipulation robot at this time. Except maybe two arms :).”
As their TIAGo didn’t have a wrist F/T sensor, they came up with an alternative means: “We made high usage of the effort feedback for contact enforced cleaning of the toilet using a sponge-end effector or to “feel” when we got in contact with the trash bag”, explains Memmesheimer. “Further we used the gravity mode to record demonstrations that adapt to other situations. Its wide work range is also a big plus.” Remember TIAGo has a set of ROS tutorials publicly available online, if you’d like to give it a go and test TIAGo in simulation!
What’s next… RoboCup 2020 in Bordeaux (France)!
Note down in your calendars the RoboCup 2020, which will be back in Europe! Bordeaux will host the world championship and CATIE Team is already getting ready with Epok: “We have not reached a satisfactory level of robustness yet, but we’ll get there soon. As for the performance in the competition, while we think we could have done more had we had the setup days, we’re thrilled we got on the podium for our first RoboCup. We’ll get first place next time!”
Based on their long experience, Homer Team shares some advice for new teams who want to get started in robotics competitions. One is to first enroll in local tournaments or competitions like the ERL or the SciRoc Challenge, to prepare better for a RoboCup world championship. They also recommend to “read the Team Description Papers, watch performances on YouTube or contact the teams directly.”
We are glad that Homer and CATIE trusted in our mobile manipulator and could achieve such fantastic results. We hope TIAGo robot will continue helping them and other teams show their talent and contribute to the robotics progress. Looking forward to RoboCup 2020 Bordeaux!