Jun 28, 2016 @ 19:23 |
RoboCup is the leading and most diverse competition for intelligent robots and one of the world’s most important technology events in research and training. The World Cup of robots combines a variety of interdisciplinary challenges from robotics, artificial intelligence, informatics, as well as electrical and mechanical engineering, among others.
Ever since 1997, the RoboCup Federation has been pursuing its objective of developing intelligent humanoid soccer-playing robots which by 2050 will be able to beat the current FIFA champions.
RoboCup 2016 will welcome approximately 3,500 participants from 45 countries over the next days. Participants hail from Argentina, India, Estonia and Switzerland, among others. It is the team from Sydney (Australia) that has travelled the longest distance: 16,000 km by air to Leipzig. Leipziger Messe issued more than 800 visa invitation letters for RoboCup. Many participants will be staying in Leipzig not just for one but as many as six, seven and eight days – which is unusual compared to other trade fair events. Twenty-two catering stations on the Leipzig exhibition grounds will look after the culinary needs of participants. International meals for all tastes and religions will be offered on site. Halal or kosher meals can also be made if they are ordered in advance.
Many people and helping hands will work to make sure that everyone feels right at home. At Leipziger Messe alone, around 60 people are working on the RoboCup 2016 project. They are assisted by 248 volunteers who provide assistance on the exhibition grounds, and also in the city. And the volunteers are not just from Germany, but from countries such as China, Mexico and Egypt. 110 of them work as Technical Volunteers, and ensure the smooth running of the competitions. Another 33 IT Volunteers make sure that the robots are connected. 85 volunteers look after participant registration, visitor tours and access authorizations, among others. The many language talents of the volunteers are in great demand.
From line management to robot communication: The robots’ specific requirements do not only challenge the colleagues at FAIRNET in building arenas accurately to the millimetre, especially the IT department is needed more than ever. Some of the outstanding milestones that were achieved during preparations for the RoboCup 2016.
Competitions to measure: Competition arenas that are exact to the millimeter
How can trade fair buildings be turned into competition arenas? That was the challenge faced by the colleagues from FAIRNET. A total of 70 playing fields – between six and 170 square meters in size – were designed and implemented for RoboCup. Precision work according to international standards and regulations was key in this respect, as even the smallest deviations irritate the programmed robots.
An area of 2,200 square meters in playing fields has been designated for the soccer competitions alone, including 600 square meters with artificial turf. The goals on the playing field are all unique pieces, and were made just for RoboCup. In the future, they will be used by other competition sites. The Rescue discipline – in which robots must complete a rescue course – was an exciting challenge for the FAIRNET employees, who were supported by Artist Messe Service. They built 500 individual wooden obstacles. The playing fields also feature 50 heating pads: heat sources that simulate the human body and attract the robots. The RoboCup@Home playing fields promise a comfortable atmosphere: here, kitchen and living room furniture was used to create a home environment in which robots must prove their ability to assist with household and maintenance tasks. Leipziger Messe also uses mobile grandstands to ensure that the audience is in a good position to follow the competitions. A total of 2000 spots are created around the arenas, and guarantee an excellent competition atmosphere.
Without limits: Line management at RoboCup
FAIRNET also focused a lot of its attention on the lines that form the boundaries of the playing fields. It may sound almost banal, but this is a key factor for a successful competition. Robots can only act properly if the lines have been drawn exactly and are made of the proper material. To this end, the experts tested different paints to find the one that sticks to the three centimeter high artificial turf while at the same time enabling the smooth communication of the robots.
Rapid data: IT ensure robot communication
Who needs English, French or German if you speak the language of robots? They broadcast their commands through the competition halls using LAN and WIFI. To ensure the smooth running of these processes, the experts in the IT department have set up an extensive technical network. RoboCup will feature 10,000 of installed network cables and 1,700 network ports. More than 200 switches will be used to ensure an ideal distribution. Seven central network hubs provide participants with 5,000 Mbit/s of Internet performance. A team of more than 30 persons will be working during the competition days to ensure that questions or disruptions can be rectified quickly. By the way, exhibitors, visitors and journalists must return to the old-fashioned way of communicating when they are in the competition halls. That is because WIFI is reserved for the robots only. That is how perfect communication works.