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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Back in Taiwan! Experiences in Taipei

Post #20 of "Today In The AA" series. (~5 minute read)
Friendly: Light hearted reading for anyone who is interested.

I'm now settled back in Taiwan, staying in Taipei this time on the NTU (National Taiwan University) campus. I share a dorm with 3 others, this is the first time I've had a shared room.

Scenery: The first morning

The atmosphere here is great, a warm wet sun welcomes me by 5:30am and makes the air humid.
NTU National Taiwan University Track and Gym in Taipei Taiwan
NTU Track
I get up and chug the 2 litres of water I lost overnight and chuckle at the crime-like body outline of myself sprawled out on the bed. Breakfast is provided downstairs, full meal for a couple bucks.
 I then head out to the very well kept athletic area and do my morning 5km on the track.

The lab is a nice 3km away, as I head to NTNU (National Taiwan Normal University). There are many Universities in Taiwan, you may have noticed. This makes the student life incredible. Each of the Universities has a campus radius of about 2 kilometers, and with so many of them -- these campuses often overlap. Everywhere feels like a campus.

I arrived at the NTNU's Electrical Engineering department  and met with Davis Kung, one of the students who had been helping me out thus far. We sat down in a conference room, and I had the pleasure of watching his Masters thesis defence, along with 黃騰緯 (Andy) who was also helping me get settled in Taipei.

Welcome To the Lab

The lab has various tools for the researchers. A large space on the floor gives room for SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) research, which my friends here study. To the side are other machines used for writing Hanzi characters, and other sorts of manipulators.

The Robot I'm working on is the Thormang3. The THORMANG3 is a Full sized Humanoid robot by Robotis, and a noticeable stepup from the Darwin OP I've had experience breaking. The Thormang3 has 3 separate PC's. Each computer is just like one you'd use at home, with an operating system running on it and all the works. There is a PPC (Perception PC) for reading in sensory information (camera/laser scanner/etc), a MPC (Manipulation PC) for making the robot move, and an OPC (operator PC) which is the one you connect to, when you want to work on the robot.
thormang3 national taiwan normal university robotics lab
THORMANG3 Robot from Robotis
As the THORMANG is built heavily using ROS which stands for Robot Operating System, it allows access to wonderful tools such as RVIZ for visualizing the robot, and easily customizable modules you can make yourself.

Note: For those more technologically inclined, I've made a separate post outlining some of the work experience in this lab. I've learned many valuable things, which I believe may be useful to researchers/CS students as well! Click here to read.

Student Life

   Together I go with the other lab students out for lunch to a nearby Bubble tea shop or diner of sorts. The amount of food in Taiwan is incredible, you have to be here to really grasp just how much there is!

Karaoke Night

    One night we went out for Karaoke!
Kyle morris karaoke night with NTNU National Taiwan Normal University students in Taipei Taiwan

all you can eat buffet karaoke bar in taipei taiwan
walking in hallway at karaoke building taipei taiwan    Despite looking like a hotel, this was a Karaoke mansion, with countless custom private rooms where you could enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet and rock out to Taiwanese pop-music.

    I managed to find my idol, Rick Astley, in the English section, so the students experienced their first RickRoll (Read here about RickRolling)

Jogging and Exercise

Street in taipei taiwan

        Taiwan is wonderful for it's rural design. Amidst the busy city life there are patches of lush plantation with little workout stations for seniors, children, and foreigners who can't find a gym. I've been exploring and taking advantage of these various workout spots, often gathering an audience shortly after I setup the rings... I guess I do stand out a bit, despite not wishing to. I enjoy watching the senior groups doing tai chi and other stretching exercises early in the morning, all happy and peaceful in eachothers company.

 The community is healthy, and it sooths me in times of stress.

It's now mid July, meaning I'll be heading home soon! I'm going to head south to Kaohsiung on the 30th of July to meet up with my lab pals from NKFUST one last time. Then shortly after (on the 4th) I will pack up and head to the airport, where I begin departure for Canada!

Will update again soon with a trip conclusion! Hard to believe it's almost over.
ntu campus taipei taiwan
thought provoking scenic shot to close blog entry


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