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Brainsormers Tribots - The success story

Season 2002/2003: A New RoboCup Team is Born

tlnxhwtrbicIn 2002 we started to create the RoboCup Middle Size League team after our Simulation League team has already been very successful for some years. The basic platform of our robots has already been developped in a Diplomarbeit (master's thesis) so that a group of 12 students - organized in a study project - could start to implement a vision and behavior system for the robots. After half a year we already participated in our first tournament, the German Open 2003. Surprisingly, we could win the first and second game, but in the third game we got a hammering of 0:10. However, we became third out of six teams in the first round robin and proceeded to the quarter finals in which we lost and dropped out of the tournament.

The results of the German Open which have been much better than expected before, encouraged us to participate in the World Championships in Padova two months later. Improvements in the vision system, a new goalie strategy, a better control flow in our software, and a stronger kicking device helped to achieve good results in the tournament. In the first round robin we did not loose a single game and only one of our games ended in draw. In the second round robin, we had to play against team EIGEN, the incumbent world champion. Although we could score three goals in this game, EIGEN won with 3:4. Finally, we dropped out after the second round robin.

Season 2003/2004: Becoming No. 1 in Europe

In 2003/2004, a smaller group of students and research assistants continued to improve the performance of the soccer robots. Especially a new software framework, an improved vision and self localization approach, and enhanced robot movements were implemented. In the Middle Size League, our robots were the first that could dribble the ball.

With the improved robots we participated again in the German Open, the most important European robot soccer contest. Compared to the year before, we achieved much better results and passed the first round robin without problems. In the quarter final, semi final, and final we played again three very strong opponents but finally we beat all three of them and won the tournament. Thus, we became the best European team in the RoboCup Middle Size League.

We also participated in the World Championships in Lisbon 2004. Meanwhile, we had replaced the four robots of 2002 by five new ones which were equipped with stronger motors so that they could move much faster than before. However, these improvements were not enough to play successfully against the strong Japanese teams. After passing the first and second round robin, we proceeded to the quarter finals where we played against team EIGEN and lost clearly.

Season 2004/2005: Step by Step Improvements

After the first big success of 2004, the work in our team continued step-by-step. A better software framework, a more robust selflocalization approach, and improved behaviors were the main progress of this year. Furthermore, by tuning the kicking devices of our robots,the robots were enabled to chip the ball and to kick it harder than before.

However, the changes in the software were very big so that we had a lot of problems during the first days of the German Open 2005 and we even lost one game in the first round robin. After fixing the worst bugs, we could recover and repeat the success of the year before. Moreover, also our Simulation League teams Brainstormers and Brainstormers3D won their leagues so that the Neuroinformatics group of the Osnabrück University become triple champion in 2005.

Due to the large effort that a participation of the Brainstormers Tribots in the World Championships 2005 in Osaka would have cost we did not participate but focussed on the year 2006.

Season 2005/2006: Becoming World Champion

In 2006, the World Championships were held in Bremen, only one hour away from Osnabrück. Therefore, our motivation to be successful was very high and we spent a lot of effort in preparing well. Beside the participation in the Dutch Open tournament we also participated in a small RoboCup meeting in Eindhoven (Robocup Challenge) and organized a preparation and presentation day in Osnabrück. Successively, we made the hard- and software more robust and implemented better teamplay, cooperative throw ins and free kicks as well as a first pass playing approach. Moreover, for the first time we integrated a skill to intercept the ball that was not hand-coded but automatically learned in a simulation environment using reinforcement learning.

At the Durch Open 2006 tournament which was held instead of the German Open, we already played very successfully. All games were clearly won so that we became the best European Middle Size League team again. But the big open question was whether we were strong enough to compete with the Asian teams, especially the strong Japanese teams. Two years before, we did not had a chance against them. In June 2006, the moment had come at the World Championships in Bremen. Already in the first game we played against EIGEN, the incumbent champion - and we won 5:0. Most of the subsequent games were dominated by us, we achieved even the highest score winning a game with 21:0. In the third round robin, the games became thrilling since we had to play against strong opponents: Hibikino-Musashi (7:4), EIGEN (2:0), and MINHO (9:1). After successfully passing the semi final against FU Fighters (9:1) we entered the final against the team CoPS from Stuttgart University - and we won 4:2. Beside the tournament, we also won the technical challenge in which we showed collaborative robot behavior and an approach for stereo vision on our robots. }

Season 2006/2007: Pole Position

Having had several very successful years you can never be sure that the story goes on like this. The opponents are improving as well and you do not have luck all the time. However, we continued working on the hard- and software. Rule changes caused a lot of effort since we had to adapt to larger fields and to build two additional robots. Furthermore, we integrated the stereo vision system on all our robots and we changed the tactics. The number of changes we implemented was even larger than in the years before.

Similar to 2005, we started with problems in the German Open 2007 tournament: hardware problems and a lousy segmentation fault forced us to work day and night during the tournament days. The result of our work: winning all games in the first and second round robin, and winning the semi final. The final was a repetition of last year's final at Bremen: Brainstormers Tribots versus CoPS. The CoPS started aggressively and could score the first goal after a few seconds. However, our robots worked very well and finally could win the game 3:2.

The next challenge was waiting at the World Championships in Atlanta. After a start with problems we could improve our robots game by game. In the semi final we won against Hibikino-Musashi with 1:0 and finally defeated the Japanese team EIGEN with 2:0 clearly.

web diary 2007 Beside the success in the games we also showed our research results in the Technical Challenges in which we could achieve a first and a second place.

Read about this years events in our web diary (german).

Season 2007/2008

web diary 2008 See the web diary for this year (german).


Season 2002/2003

Hardware: 4 new robots with:
  • 3x20 W motors
  • maximal velocity 1.5m/s
  • omnidirectional drive
  • omnidirectional camera
  • 600MHz subnotebook
  • billard cue-like kicking device
  • motor controllers of type Kameleon
  • color segmentation-based vision
  • self localization based on particle filter
  • decision tree-based strategy
  • path planning based on potential fields
  • simple remote client to activate/deactivate robots and change their roles
  • 4 robots
  • 45,000 lines of code
  • 17 team members

Season 2003/2004

Hardware: 5 new robots with:
  • 3x90 W motors
  • maximal velocity 3.5m/s
  • 1GHz subnotebook
  • lever-based pneumatic kicking device
  • motor controllers of type TMC
  • new sequential software framework
  • vision based on search on scan lines and color classification
  • ball velocity estimator
  • dribbling algorithm
  • camera calibration and color classification tool
  • new simulator
  • logviewer to visualize and analyze what was going on during games
  • automatic tool to distinguish areas in the camera images which show parts of the robot from the environment
  • 5 robots
  • 51,000 lines of code
  • 10 team members
  • 1st place German Open

Season 2004/2005

  • tuned kicking devices (stronger, higher kicks)
  • new modular software framework
  • new, robust self localization based on error minimization principle
  • stuck recognition sensor (without haptic sensors)
  • behavior-based strategy
  • path planning based on geometric reasoning
  • improved behavior of players
  • special behaviors for standard situations
  • 5 robots
  • 65,000 lines of code
  • 9 team members
  • 1st place German Open
  • open source software release

Season 2005/2006

  • cooperative play
  • pass playing
  • improved strategy
  • flexible strategy
  • intercept behavior learned using reinforcement learning
  • automated coach box
  • 5 robots
  • 79,000 lines of code
  • 12 team members
  • 1st place Dutch Open
  • 1st place World Cup
  • 1st place Technical Challenge

Season 2006/2007

  • two additional robots with on-board dual core mini-PC
  • second, perspective camera for stereo vision
  • stereo vision for ball recignition using omnidirectional and perspective camera
  • improved strategy and teamplay for 6 robots
  • adaptation of vision, self localization and behavior to large field size
  • dribble behavior learned using reinforcement learning
  • coach box forwarding
  • 7 robots
  • 103,000 lines of code
  • 11 team members
  • 1st place German Open
  • 1st place World Cup
  • 1st and 2nd place Technical Challenge

Season 2007/2008

  • New kicking devices with pass mode and chip kick mode (cooperation with Harting)
  • Improvement of pass playing
  • Adaptation of the goalie strategy for chip kicks
  • Further development of the behavior software framework
  • Improved camera calibration method
  • Additional logging mechanisms
  • Improvement of robustness and usability
  • remote robot control using an iPhone
  • Application of the Tribots software on a robot of the team Hibikino-Musashi
  • 7 robots
  • 128,000 lines of code
  • 10 team members
  • 3rd place German Open
  • 3rd place World Cup
  • 1st place Technical Challenge