Latest entries written by Frederik Zwilling

Bonding Hackathon 2015

Together with Bonding, Carologistics hosted the Bonding Hackathon for the third time in a row. 47 students split up in small teams and hacked through the night. They used Fawkes, the Lua-Based Behavior Engine and a Gazbeo simulation to solve a nuclear catastrophe scenario.

The scenario was a nuclear catastrophe and the teams had to bring nuclear fuel rods from the reactor to some decay tanks. They got points by successfully delivering a fuel rod to a decay tank. The decay tanks were hidden and randomly placed on the field. We also placed random obstacles on the field. The better the tanks were hidden the more points you got, from 1 to 3 points. The tanks and the reactor were identified by AR-tags. The teams had to rescue 3 fuel rods, so there were different strategies. Either to find the 3 point decay tank, which is hard to find, or just use the 1 point decay tank. The scenario was represented in our simulation based on gazebo, so the teams could run through a lot of testing cycles, before testing on the real hardware.

We offered the students first-hand knowledge and experience in robotics, whilst Bonding took care of them with free food and soft drinks during the whole night. The sponsors (Bosch, Continental and IVU Traffic Technologies) provided some exiting prices for the top 3 teams. The first place won a trip to the Bosch ConnectedWorld Conference in Berlin. Alltogether it was a great event and we look forward to next years Bonding Hackathon.

Here are videos of the final and the winning teams skill in the simulation:

Posted by Frederik Zwilling on November 3, 2015 12:00

World Champion in the RoboCup Logistics League 2015 in China

We won Robocup 2015 in the Logistics League with the Carologistics Team! Although there were many major and challenging changes of the league, we could defend our title as world champion. In the finals we won against Team Solidus with the score 56:26.

After arriving in Hefei, China, and getting introduced to the Chinese culture, we entered an exiting RoboCup competition. This years main challenge in the Logistics League was to adapt to the almost completely changed competition area and game rules. In contrast to last year, the game has changed from a moderately difficult and more abstract production scenario to a more realistic, flexible and plausible production scenario with actual processing stations based on the Festo Modular Production System (MPS). Especially finding the randomly placed machines and handling their small tolerances in the production were difficult tasks. We could build on top of our basic success at the RoboCup German Open and further improved our system to solve the challenge.

In the exploration phase of the game our robots explored the factory environment to find randomly placed machines. They used our flexible collision avoidance and navigation to drive to possible machine-positions in the unknown environment. To find machines we detected lines in the laser range data to cope with random machine orientation and determined the type and exact machine position by looking for attached AR tags. During the exploration, the robots dynamically generated a navigation-graph which is used later in the production. By presenting this approach based on Voronoi and CGAL we won a technical challenge.

In the production phase we struggled at the start of the tournament because of small tolerances when placing workpieces on the conveyor belt of a machine. Later in the tournament our machine handling improved. Here we benefited from our idea to adjust the height of the gripper by detecting the conveyor belt with OpenCV. To coordinate the multi-robot team and to perform the reasoning about the world model and the actions to take, we used a CLIPS agent based on the Incremental Task-Level Reasoning approach. The agent was adapted to the new game to control the new exploration phase, reason about the new machine types, their instruction, production preparation and output. Furthermore, the agent needed to handle random product orders with designated delivery times and a wide variety of product types and complexity.

Another factor for our success at the RoboCup is the simulation of the RCLL based on Gazebo. After modelling the new game and our robots in the simulation, we could use it for rapid prototyping and testing during the development. This was especially useful in the development of the agent and the low level behavior. It also allowed us to test before the RoboCup without having a full competition field.

After solving these challenging tasks to achieve a successful exploration and production, we won the finals against Team Solidus with the score 56:26. However, we are eager to improve our performance further. Now that we have a successful basis to explore, handle and reason about the new machines, we can focus on more efficient task allocation, faster physical interaction and more ideas to improve.

Posted by Frederik Zwilling on July 22, 2015 13:00

Carologistics Win RoboCup German Open 2015 in the Logistics League

The Carologistics RoboCup team was successful again this year at the RoboCup German Open 2015.
This year, the league used actual processing stations based on the Festo Modular Production System (MPS) for the first time. Additionally, the machines were placed freely within certain zones on the field (therefore neither the exact position nore orientation was known before the game) and the number of product variants increased from 3 to almost 300.

This made several adjustments necessary to our robot team. Therefore, we switched to the new Robotino Version 3. Robotino 3 can handle higher payloads and allows mounting components at the needed height. The image on the left shows some of the components we mounted on it.

By the end of the tournament we were able to almost complete the exploration phase with only a single machine missing. The robots then executed the first steps for the production phase, but eventually failed as the handling of the machines was not yet precise enough. The robots coordinated to use the stations in the proper order, but the products were not placed properly on the conveyor belt. This is a challenge we will work on on the way towards RoboCup 2015 in Heifei.

Posted by Frederik Zwilling on April 26, 2015 13:00

World Champion in the RoboCup Logistics League 2014 in Brazil

We did it! We won in the RoboCup Logistics League 2014 in João Pessoa, Brazil. In a flawless run through the tournament we won every game and had an exiting final against the title defender Bavarian Bending Units. We participated with the Carologistics team, a joint venture of the Knowledge-based Systems Group, RWTH Aachen University, the IMA/ZLW & IFU Institute Cluster, RWTH Aachen University, and the Department for Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, Robotics Group, FH Aachen

A few days after the German national team won the Fifa World Cup, we also went to Brazil to win a title, in our case the RoboCup 2014 Logistics League. We competed with 9 other teams from Germany, Brazil, Japan, Egypt, Mexico, Switzerland and France. After arriving in João Pessoa, a beautiful city at the beach with topical weather and a lot of coconuts to drink from, we could continue with our good performance from the German Open. Nevertheless we faced various challenges, such as changing lightening conditions and recovering from wrong worldmodels after wrong perception results. As we solved these issues and further improved our low level skills, which use the Lua behavior engine, and the high level task decision based on an incremental reasoning approach in CLIPS with improved multi-robot collaboration, we continued to increase our performance.

In the final we won against the Bavarian Bending Units with the score 165:124. The following video shows the final.

In the first phase, the exploration phase, we could successfully detect all light signals to determine the machine types. Even after one robot had to be restarted, it could continue its work because the robot team synchronizes their knowledge about the world.
In the production phase the robot team got randomized orders and had to produce the products according to the production chain and the machine types with the raw material pucks lying on the side of the field. We especially profited from our collision avoidance and multi-robot coordination. The collision avoidance allowed us to get through narrow passages between other robots or take alternative paths. The high level decision making and multi-robot coordination of the CLIPS agent lead to a fast completion of complex products.

We also won multiple technical challenges, namely the navigation challenge and the MPS challenge:

At the RoboCup Symposium we presented our simulation of the RoboCup Logistics League. It is an important tool for rapid prototyping, especially of the high level decision and multi-robot coordination. It features a 3D physics and sensor simulation with real world environment agency because it is controlled by the referee box that also controls the real game.

Posted by Frederik Zwilling on July 24, 2014 18:00

Winner of the RoboCup German Open 2014 Logistics League

We won the RoboCup German Open 2014 Logistics League with the Carologistics team. In the finals we beat the TUMsBendingUnits with 71:30. This is an important milestone on the road to the RoboCup 2014 in Brazil.

After some mayor rule changes the competing teams had to play in a shared factory space. Here we benefited from your flexible navigation and collision avoidance. The collision avoidance was ported to Fawkes from the AllemaniAcs Team in the RoboCup@Home league and uses an occupancy grid, A* search and a collision free triangle to find trajectories on the planned path. Our performance was also boosted by a closer multi-robot coordination, which allowed the robot team to produce ordered goods more quickly. The robots could perform small sub-steps of a larger production task in parallel and could continue with the work of another robot. For the development of the agent, the component responsible for the task reasoning and multi-robot coordination, we used a Gazebo based simulation of the Logistics League, which allowed rapid prototyping. Furthermore we used more robust techniques for visual perception of light signals and pucks by using colour filters and geometrical clues.

Posted by Frederik Zwilling on April 5, 2014 12:00

Carologistics at RoboCup 2013

We participated with the Carologistics Team at the RoboCup 2013 in Eindhoven, Netherlands. After a promising performance in the round-robin phase we reached the small finals. To achieve this we had to solve many technical challenges, such as task planning, where we used an incremental reasoning approach and visual perception of light signals and pucks.

In the Open Technical Challenge we gave an interesting demo of a Robotino performing a pick-and-place task with a mounted Jaco Arm from Kinova.

Posted by Frederik Zwilling on June 30, 2013 16:00