We won three benchmarks in Lisbon

Winners of FBM2, TBM1 and TBM3
Winners of FBM2, TBM1 and TBM3.

The European Robotics League local tournament for Consumer Service robots in Lisbon is finished now. Scratchy did quite a good job and we won the functionallity benchmark for navigation and also two of the four task benchmarks—Getting to Know My Home (TBM1) and Catering for Granny Annie’s Comfort (TBM3). In Visiting my Home (TBM4) and Welcoming Visitors (TBM2), the SocRob team was slightly better.

Team Homer together with our friends from team SocRob and our robots
Team Homer together with our friends from team SocRob and our robots.

We really enjoyed our participation at the ERL in Lisbon and learned to build a robot from scratch, made new friends in Lisbon and additionally, we wrote a paper about Scratchy during the week. It describes Scratchy’s hardware and software setup to enable other teams to maybe participate on a low budget level in these kind of competitions. Sadly, Scratchy did not manage to grasp objects during the actual runs but at least during testing, he managed to pick up the coke and the toilet paper once. We are working on that issue right now. There are also some ideas for exchanging knowledge between the teams. For example, the advanced data augmentation of the SocRob team might be very helpful. In return, we would like to share our gesture recognition method with them.

Scratchy and mBot are pretty good friends now
Scratchy and mBot are pretty good friends now.

In two weeks, there will be one more ERL Consumer Service Robot tournament in Bristol, which we will most probably not attend. One reason is, that we ourselves plan on hosting a European Robotics tournament for Professional Service Robots around that time. For the final results of this year’s league, there will be an award ceremony in Bucharest in March. Stay tuned!

Welcoming Visitors and Semantic Mapping

Preparing Scratchy for its next run..
Preparing Scratchy for its next run...

It works well over here in Lisbon. Yesterday, we focused on the “Welcoming Visitors” and “Getting to know my Home” tasks — today it’s time for “Catering for Granny Annie’s Comfort” and “Visit my home”. Scratchy is doing well so far.

The current scores of TBM1 - Getting to know my home and TBM2 - Welcoming Visitors
The current scores of TBM1 - Getting to know my home and TBM2 - Welcoming Visitors.

TBM1 is about autonomously learning where the things in the apartment are located — Scratchy does this by creating a semantic map. But because of facing some issues with the trained object recognition model, TBM1 didn’t earn that much scoring yet. Also in TBM2 we encountered a few initial mistakes but than there was steady progress. For each benchmark task, it is allowed to do seven runs and the final scoring is the median of the three best ones — so there’s still room for improvement today.

Scratchy is able to grip objects - at least occasionally
Scratchy is able to grip objects - at least occasionally.
And here he hands over a parcel during the Welcoming Visitors task
And here he hands over a parcel during the Welcoming Visitors task.
Our friends from SocRob are also doing a great job with their mBot
Our friends from SocRob are also doing a great job with their mBot.

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The birth of Scratchy - and we are back in Lisbon

Team Homer is back! Back in Lisbon. Just after Magdeburg for RoboCup German Open, Lisbon now tends to be the most frequent location for competition attendances of our team. First time we were here for RoCKIn in 2015. Afterwards we attended the European Robotics League each year. We are here with our newest robotic family member Scratchy — as the Simpsons character, but also as in “built from scratch”.

Kinect --- 150€. Hokuyo lascerscanner --- 1000€. Kinova arm --- 25.000€. Passing the security check with a robot in the hand luggage - priceless!
Kinect --- 150€. Hokuyo lascerscanner --- 1000€. Kinova arm --- 25.000€. Passing the security check with a robot in the hand luggage - priceless!.

Receiving no guaranteed financial support this time, we had to reduce our travel expenses to a minimum. That’s why we came up with a lightweight robot based on our former “Maggie” model. The great benefit of this new robot is that it fits completely into one piece of hand luggage plus a bagpack (for the arm). Of course this results into interested faces during the luggage inspection and nice looking x-ray pictures at the airport.

Scratchy together with its competitor mBot from team SocRob
Scratchy together with its competitor mBot from team SocRob.

Once in Lisbon, we went directly to the robotics lab of the technical university and reassembled Scratchy — which didn’t take much more than one hour.

The base.
The base..

You want to learn more about Scratchy? Read it up on the robots section.

Hamster is enyoing its view out of the window of the Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon.
Hamster is enyoing its view out of the window of the Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon..

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ERL in Oldenburg is done

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Friday evening we came back from the European Robotics League Tournament in Oldenburg. It was a pretty cool but also exhausting week.

Our team from the ERL in Oldenburg together with a creepy dummy (next to Lisa), Dr. Max Pfingsthorn from OFFIS (second one on the right) and Dr. Meysam Basiri (ERL judge)(on the right)
Our team from the ERL in Oldenburg together with a creepy dummy (next to Lisa), Dr. Max Pfingsthorn from OFFIS (second one on the right) and Dr. Meysam Basiri (ERL judge)(on the right).

There were four benchmark tasks to be done: Getting to Know My Home, Welcoming Visitors, Catering for Granny Annie’s Comfort and Visit My Home. Over all, they went quite well and we are at least on the second place of each category. The official scoring can be found here. So we are very ambitious to reach the first places in two weeks in Lisbon — we will challenge the local SocRob team there.

TBM 2: Welcoming Visitors. Lisa accepts a parcel from *the postman* aka Chris
TBM 2: Welcoming Visitors. Lisa accepts a parcel from *the postman* aka Chris.

On wednesday morning, a reporter from a local journal interviewed us and a photographer took some photos of Lisa and the team. You can have a look at the article and the photos here.

The five days in Oldenburg went by very fast and having the chance to benchmark our robot in a real smart apartment was a pleasure! :)

Ever wondered how Lisa looks from the inside? Here is a picture we made while disassembling her for the transportation back home
Ever wondered how Lisa looks from the inside? Here is a picture we made while disassembling her for the transportation back home.