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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Today In The AA [#9]: Judgment Day

Pre-Event Prep
The days leading up to the Hurocup event were intense, to say the least. I got a solid 3 hours sleep on Wednesday night, and went forth onto debugging the software aspects of the Darwin, which was primarily involving the walking gait. It was extremely difficult to get this thing walking.

From that Wednesday until Saturday morning, I acquired roughly 5 hours of sleep, but we kept each other going with our own energy.

Huro Cup Competition

Day 1

Me and the other members from the NKFUST team head on down to the training/competition area for 7am sharp on Saturday morning, in which we found other teams training their vision systems and walking gaits to match the new terrain. I like that despite the competition being fully autonomous (robots act on their own), the teams are given a chance to help tune parameters beforehand. This adds somewhat to a human skill to the competition and makes for a fun social setting, watching everyone

It's kind of like an MMORPG when a group quest is about to begin and everyone is using their scrolls/item enhancements to prepare for a specific boss battle.

The team sizes varied from as small as 4-5 people to as much as around 20. I don't know what I should have called myself since I was alone. I guess I'm a 1 man team, with great support from Jacky. At this point, I didn't want to even call myself a team; as I felt more like a tourist of the event. Things were overwhelming but I had prepared as much as possible and was ready to give it my all. 

SPRINT (11am)

The first event I participated in was Sprint, at 11am. It involved having several robots lined up, in which they must run forward towards some designated line (featuring a target) and then running backward to the starting location.
See full rules HERE

Unfortunately, when the camera went live, my performance was awful. Not only couldn't I get my Darwin to reach the ending line, I could barely get it walking over the starting line... The walking gait was configuring poorly on my part, and I was baffled as to how I should go about fixing it. I kept doing adjustments rapidly to fix it, but nothing was working. Things were not off to a good start for me personally; in fact, many of the teams took a decent time to finish. 

Immediately after the event, teams began to scramble to prepare for then next one. I went back to my table alone and began looking into what could have gone wrong. 


Link to rules HERE

By the time I reached this event, a few hours later, I had begun to understand the walking configuration of the Darwin a bit more; however I was still unable to have it successfully complete obstacle run. 
The issue this time, was not walking purse; but the fact that upon avoiding obstacles, the Darwin would sway to the left/right far too much and throw itself off balance. 

I was finding a lot of difficulty in getting it to walk correctly; despite even having other teams assisting. I spent the remainder of this day focusing on that, attempting to diagnose the issue. 

Day 2

Come day 2 arrived, I was still having troubles with walking, with a few hours before the Marathon event at 5pm. Jacky came on over and after looking over things for a few seconds pointed out that it appears to be a synchronization issue, and that I should either try to rewrite the Marathon event from scratch, or do a fresh install of the operating system, as it may be a software problem.

I took the reinstallation option, running back and forth between labs and borrowing monitors/keyboards from others in order to do a system image restore onto the Darwin. It must have been quite amusing for othe teams, in which were just casually tuning parameters and preparing for events. I was this 1 white guy, drenched in sweat, frantically developing the whole program from scratch and reinstalling the OS as if It was my first time using one of these things.

The good news? Reinstallation of the OS did fix the walking issue. That, is something I must still figure out as to why it worked; but it did. During the Marathon event I was able to walk a slight bit further than before, falling after about 1 foot of the 75-meter track...


NKFUST Team, me (kyle), and others. 

The general result, is that my performance was absolutely horrid, and I got dead last. But I went full out until the very end and gave everything I had.
It's not easy failing for 2 days straight, in front of professionals, after not sleeping countless hours. I think that despite getting beaten senseless during this competition, I left with a lot of valuable experience and insights into myself. Following the contest I was sure to go congratulate all the teams for their performance!

Here are a couple images of the all around best humanoid robot, awarded to NTNU (National Taiwan Normal University)

We were divided into teams, and alone I may have failed; but I feel the true objective was to succeed together, with the goal of furthering research in the field. 

I now have a month or so to prepare for the Robocup, the big event coming up in Leipzig Germany by the end of June. I felt tired the day after the contest I just took part in, but there is no time to sit around. I have a lot of valuable knowledge to take into the future with me, and I look forward to seeing results!

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