RoboCup Team 2009: Austria

2009 RoboCup World Championship: Graz, Austria

Our RoboCup Soccer Team has been hard at work now for several months, preparing their robots and programs for this prestigious event. Endless lunchtimes spent working on their game are about to come to fruition…this is the big one!

The RoboCup World Championship is a huge event, taking over all three halls of the huge Stadthalle exhibition centre in Graz(Austria’s second largest city). Several thousand people took part in the event, with both senior teams from universities around the world and over one thousand junior participants representing many different countries.

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Trip outline

Day one: Sunday

After leaving the school after dinner, we endured an unpleasant minibus drive down to Stansted! We stayed overnight in a hotel, ready to catch a morning flight to Graz.

Day two: Monday

The long stage! After our last full English breakfast for a while, we made our way to the airport to catch our flight. Our flight was on time, and we arrived in Grazmid-afternoon. The weather was hot and stormy, as it was to be for the rest of the week. Train and bus rides then followed as made our way to our home for the week: the Youth Hostel in the centre of Graz.

 

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Day three: Tuesday

This was an opportunity for some sightseeing; there were no flights to Grazon Tuesday, so we were forced to have a day off! In the morning we visited a cave called the Lurgrotte in Peggau (a 20 minute train ride away from Graz). This was a huge cave system under the hills near the city, and was fascinating. We returned to the city in the afternoon and walked up the Schlossberg – a small hill in the middle of the city, which provided excellent views in all directions. We finished off the day with a visit to the local cinema, which conveniently shows films in English, allowing us to watch the new Star Trek movie.

 

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Day four: Wednesday

This was the registration and setup day for the competition. Registration was an achingly slow process taking over an hour and a half, not helped by the organisers spelling the College’s name incorrectly (not an uncommon occurrence)! The teachers were not allowed in the teams’ work area, so had to occupy their time playing on a Nintendo Wii in the Mentors’ Lounge. All day was spent tuning up the robots and ensuring that they functioned correctly with the light levels in the hall.

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Days four, five and six: Thursday to Saturday

These were the days of qualifying matches for the competition. The teams were grouped to make “Superteams” composed of three teams from different nations, and each Superteam would share all the points they won for that day. The reason for this was to promote cooperation between the teams. The next day, the teams would be “shuffled” into different Superteams, providing an opportunity for the teams to mix more. Thursday evening also provided us with the Junior Party – a massive celebration with as much food and drink as you could manage and a disco with a professional DJ. Catering for over a thousand partygoers was no mean feat, but the food was delicious.

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As for the competition, our robots put in a creditable performance, winning us two games. However, the competition was very strong, and ultimately our Lego Technic robots could not match the teams who had produced robots from metal parts. We finished the competition in 11thplace out of 25 teams by points, missing out on a place in the finals.

We finished Saturday with another cinema trip to see Terminator Salvation; hopefully seeking inspiration for our next robot design!

Day seven: Sunday

As we had not made it to the finals, we spent today sightseeing. We took a coach out of the city to Schöckl, a mountain of 5000ft, which we ascended using a cable car. We had lunch at the top and then enjoyed some time on the “Hexen Express” – a toboggan ride. Another thunderstorm then loomed ominously into view, so we made our way back down the mountain, stopping off to buy some fabulous cakes before our journey back to the city.

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Day eight: Monday

Today we returned home after some souvenir-shopping time, exhausted but full of ideas for how to further improve our robots. Next year’s World Championship is in Singapore, and the experience we have gained this year should help us to further improve our robots. Bring it on!

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