RoboCup2017 Nagoya Japan(ロボカップ2017)
RoboCup2017 Nagoya Japan(ロボカップ2017)
Robots Continuing to Compete until the Final Heat without Breaking Down
Inspect the Robots after Each Game Using a Checklist to See If There’s Any Malfunction or Damage
The Takahama Team of Dreams is a private organization operating under contract to Takahama City, Aichi Prefecture. This group organizes a wide variety of club activities for children, such as making movies, creating manga, learning English, debating, studying science, and devising inventions. Among such efforts is the Robot Club, where children enjoy researching and making robots. One of the club’s targets is to compete in the international RoboCupJunior competition. Actually, some members of the club won the championship for two years running in 2007 and 2008, and also won the Japan Open in 2007, 2008, 2015, and 2016.
Consisting of Keisuke Miyamoto and Ryoubu Kondo, Team Takahama Robots competed in the 2016 RoboCupJunior, finishing the Takahama District Qualifying Tournament in 1st place and the Tokai Regional Tournament in 2nd place. In addition, the team won the 2017 RoboCupJunior Japan Open, in Nakatsugawa, Gifu.
Reason for the Victory at the Japan Open: “We Were Just Lucky.” (laughter)
- How did you get interested in robots?
When I was in elementary school, I joined a social studies field trip. This was an event for students to observe how adults actually worked in society and to gain job experience. On that field trip, I got to see the Robot Club, organized by the Takahama Team of Dreams. This got me interested in robots and made me feel like joining the Robot Club someday.
When watching a robot moving in a TV drama, news program, or some other program, I thought that I also wanted to give it a try. But at first, I was not sure how to get involved with robots. One day, a brochure of the Takahama Team of Dreams was distributed at school, which reminded me of robots and got me interested in them again.
- What did you do after joining the Robot Club?
Soon after joining the Robot Club, we practiced soldering and using LEDs for lighting. Since the club lets its members participate in robot competitions or other events even if they have just joined the club, we participated in a robot soccer competition in the year that we joined. But in the first year, we were totally defeated (laughter). Although we were able to proceed to the final tournament, we couldn’t score any goals in the first round of the final tournament. We felt very frustrated that we were defeated.
We were so frustrated that we really wanted to win the next competition, but we were not sure what to do in order to win. But anyway, we were able to proceed to the national competition. We feel that we were just lucky.
- I see. So your debut at a robot competition came with frustration. But you won this year’s national RoboCupJunior Japan Open. Did you use any special ingenuity?
At the competition, we had a number of games, during which the participating robots were gradually breaking down or wearing out. To win and advance to the next round of the tournament, we needed to fight even stronger teams. In the latter half of the tournament, however, robots of our opponent teams were breaking down one after another. That’s why we said “We were lucky.” (laughter)
- While robots of your opponent teams were breaking down, the robots of Team Takahama Robots were able to continue competing until the final heat without doing so, even though all of these robots were competing under the same conditions. Doesn’t this mean that the two of you used some ingenuity to prevent your robots from breaking down?
We had about a 30 minute interval after each game. We spent that time making a full inspection, using a checklist to see if the screws had not come loose or if the sensors were working properly.
At the RoboCupJunior Japan Open, we replaced the right frontal motor of our forward robot, because it had slowed down, but there was no big problem other than that.
■Demonstration of robots dynamically crashing into each other
Autonomous robots are truly lifelike...
Two Autonomous Robots Striving to Score Goals in Coordination
RoboCupJunior is a junior version of RoboCup and designed for students aged from 11 to 19. In the event’s soccer league, each team consists of two autonomous robots. The field is a 122 cm x 183 cm carpet surrounded by 14 cm walls. Once the whistle blows, the robots begin to move autonomously.
Takahama Team of Dreams’ soccer field for RoboCupJunior
- What is the formation of the two robots of Team Takahama Robots?
We place the two robots longitudinally; one robot as the forward and the other as the defender. The reason for this positioning is that, for example, even if the game starts with the opponent team’s ball, the robot placed in front can move toward the ball as quickly as possible, while the other can defend the area around our goal to stop our opponents from scoring a goal.
Our forward robot moves toward the opposing team’s ball, and if the robot can steal the ball, it quickly begins to attack their goal. Meanwhile, our defense robot recognizes the ball shot by our opponents, and bounces it back.
- Does each of your robots identify its own position, its teammate’s position, and the opponent robots’ positions? Also, some teams consist of two forward robots, don’t they? Can you change your strategy after the game starts, depending on the opponent team’s strategy?
Our robots identify their positions and their opponents’ positions accurately. For example, if a robot is near the sideline, and kicks the ball forward along the line, the robot can’t score a goal. We’ve designed our robots to calculate on their own in order to recognize the goal’s position based on their own positions, and make a curve shot so that they can score a goal. This is what we do that’s different.
Moreover, we’ve programmed our defense robot to participate in the offense automatically after a certain period of time, in order to increase our team’s offense level.
We’re allowed to touch our robots or change their settings even during a game, when one of the teams scores a goal, and when the ball passes over the white line. Using such an interval, we sometimes change our robots’ settings, depending on the game situation.
- What will happen if you change the settings?
If we change the settings, we can ensure that, for example, our robots can dribble the ball in a zigzag pattern toward the goal while avoiding the opposing robots, and that our defense robot can participate in the offense.
- In terms of the sensors, did you use any special ingenuity, or was there anything you did that turned out to be successful?
If a robot moves out of a sideline or other designated lines, this means that the robot has violated the “out-of-bounds” rule. In this case, the robot needs to leave the field for a certain period of time, which is obviously a big disadvantage to the team. So, we consulted about what to do to prevent our robots from moving out of the lines.
As a result, using programming interruption, we designed our robots to detect line sensors and make the necessary judgments at short intervals. This enabled the robots to check the line positions frequently so that they would not move out of the lines, leading to a decrease in the number of violations of the out-of-bounds rule. This might be one of the reasons why we could develop a stable performance.
- Are you excited about competing in the international competition?
Yes. But we’re worried that communication, interviews, and everything else will be done in English. We feel that we need to study English hard (laughter).
Interview with Vice President Akihito Sugiura (in Charge of the Robot Club), Takahama Team of Dreams
- Many members of Takahama Team of Dreams have competed in the RoboCup international competitions so far. What do you think is the key to this?
I feel that the dream of competing in RoboCup is realized when cooperation is secured not among children alone or among adults alone, but between children and adults. Even if there are things that children alone cannot handle properly, they will be able to demonstrate some ingenuity to overcome such difficulties, if they receive support from the adults surrounding them, including us at the Takahama Team of Dreams.
Since Aichi is a vibrant center for manufacturing, there are many households whose parents are engaged in development or research at companies, and many households who run small manufacturing plants. Such parents are often interested in making robots, and it might be natural that children brought up in such an environment have an interest in or dream of robots and science. To help such children realize their dreams, we at the Takahama Team of Dreams have the necessary equipment, such as a laser processing machine, thereby establishing an appropriate environment.
- Can you speak a little more about RoboCupJunior?
I feel that to win at RoboCup, you need to strike the best balance of developing robot technologies, which can be described as an effort to be made from an academic perspective, and putting such technologies into practical use at higher levels. For example, even if you have excellent technology, it won’t be of any use if it isn’t practical enough to be used continuously until the end of the competition. You know, the key to making robots lies in integrated system engineering, which entails a wide variety of technologies from special fields, such as image processing, power electronics, and engineering. Accordingly, you need to have a certain level of expertise in each field, which is essential to winning the RoboCup soccer league.
Once the whistle blows and the game starts, the robots begin to move autonomously. They’re like artificial satellites in that they move as prepared, and need to act autonomously in response to the other robots, ball, and a wide variety of problems.
- Wouldn’t it be nice if many more children wanted to become scientists in the future?
I feel that there are few opportunities other than RoboCup for children to experience something related to integrated system engineering, making the event even more significant. If one screw comes loose, you might feel that the problem concerns just a screw, but such a seemingly small problem will surely prevent you from winning RoboCup.
However, our purpose is not just to develop future scientists. We hope that no matter what types of occupations children will follow when growing up, they will be able to overcome any trouble that they might experience in the future, by remembering the planning and preparation that they put in to compete in the robot competition, and by remembering both their failures and successes, and the significance of a single screw and a single line in robot competitions. I’m convinced that RoboCup will serve as an invaluable opportunity for children and will surely be of use to them.
Of course, we’ll be even happier if they develop into invaluable human resources in the coming age of robots, when automated driving and nursing-care robots will become the norm of society.
[ Profile ]
Keisuke Miyamoto, 2nd-year, Junior High School
Ryoubu Kondo, 1st-year, Junior High School
Members of the Takahama Team of Dreams, the Robot Club
Team Takahama Robots
November 2016: Champion
Soccer World League Light Weight, Takahama District Qualifying Tournament, RoboCupJunior
December 2016: Runner-up
Soccer World League Light Weight, Tokai Regional Tournament, RoboCupJunior
March 2017: Champion, Soccer World League Light Weight, 2017 RoboCupJunior Japan Open, Nakatsugawa, Gifu (Total number of teams competing in Japan Open: 64)
RoboCup2017 Nagoya Secretariat
(Inter Group Corp.)
Orchid Building 8F, 2-38-2, Meieki, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, 450-0002 JAPAN