Fifth year of this autonomous outdoor robot contest will be held on 18th September 2010. It will take place in Slovakia in one of the preselected parks in Bratislava. In contrast to previous years robots will get only map and coordinates of destination. Note, that robots will not know their exact starting position and interaction with operator will be reduced to entering destination. Robot successfully solving this task should be able to demonstrate its navigation in any park with corresponding map.
The objective of the Robotour contest is to encourage development of robots capable of transporting you to work in the morning or to deliver the building material you have just purchased in an online shop. The path to this goal is neither easy nor short, but we believe that the outcome is worth it :-).
In the previous years there was an abundant mapping of the environment shortly before the contest itself. These maps spread from simple records of the traveled distance (odometry) and direction (compass) to a non-trivial image analysis saving notable points along the way.
This technique of navigation restricts the robots only to places where their creator spent often several days of relatively tiring and exhausting work to build a very specific map. It is relatively clear, that to create a map for a robot to travel from Písek to Opava won't be a one afternoon job with this technique.
But there is a map available to the general public, where many people cooperate on its creation and this way the coverage is getting better every day. This is possible only because everybody agreed on how the map should look like. If ever a small group of people should create robot able to move in "our world" it is necessary that this robot uses "our maps" - this means to use maps created by somebody else than the robot's author. This is something we would like to endorse this year.
Motivation for year 2010
The fifth year of this contest should be a next step towards smarter and more autonomous robots. In contrast to the previous years robots get only a map and coordinates of the destination. The robots should be able to navigate around the park even if they have never been there before. The map and the destination should be the only information the robots get before the start. Robot successfully solving this task should be able to demonstrate its ability with a corresponding map in any park.
Robust robots able to carry a payload are preferred as in previous years. The start will be concurrent from one place to increase spectators attractiveness. There will be also new category WagonOpen to support novice teams.
The task for the robots is to deliver payload in given 30 minutes time limit to destination as far as 1km. Robots must be fully autonomous, not leave the road and choose correct path on junctions. The place of start and destination will be the same for all robots.
Vector map of footpath in park will be based on vectorization of ortophotomap and teams could further improve it. The basic idea is taken from Open Street Map. At the end robot could use only this shared map - all other maps are prohibited!
Team can deploy only one robot this year. Every robot must have EMERGENCY STOP button, which stops its motion. The button must be easy accessible, red and must be fixed part of the robot (Big Red Switch), so it could be used in case of danger. The team must show that it is easy to manipulate with the robot - two people must be able to carry it several tens of meters. There is also minimal size - robot has to carry 5l beer barrel (at least an empty one).
Leaving the road
The robots are expected to stay "on the road" which means to stay on the paved passage ways. If any robot leaves the road, the trial ends. The team has to take care of their robot and remove it immediately.
There could be obstacles on the road. Besides natural obstacles like benches there could be also artificial obstacles. A typical (artificial) obstacle is for example a figurant, a banana paper box or other robot. Robots may not touch an obstacle. Contact with an obstacle means end of the trial. The robot may stop in front of the obstacle and visually or acoustically give notice. Note, that the robot has to detect, that the obstacle is no longer present.
In the cases where a faster robot catches up a slower one won't be explicitly handled. The faster robot can handle the slower robot as an obstacle, i.e. avoid it or wait until the "obstacle" disappears. In general the road rules will be respected: right of way, avoidance to the right, passing on the left.
All robots will start simultaneously from the same park road. A minimum width this road is 3 meters. Start area for each team will have approx. 1.5x1.5 meters. Start areas will follow one after another on one side of the road. In the start area each team can place its robot as they see fit. The order of robots on start is given by the results the in previous round (a better robot will be closer to the destination). The order in the first round will be given by the order of successful homologation. Robots start automatically via their internal timers. A minute before the start is allowed no interaction with the robot.
The team whose robot manage best to proceed along the route wins. Critical is the aerial distance of the last robot position (leaving the road, a collision or a timeout) to destination. For every meter towards the destination team gets one point. If the team carries payload it is awarded twice ("points for the payload"). Each robot can carry only one "payload". Payload is 5liter beer barrel (full). In every round a robot can get at most twice the aerial distance of the start and the destination.
The contest will consist of 4 trials for each team. The start and destination will be different for every trial. The selected destination will be announced to all teams 10 minutes before the start. The speed of the robots is not important (actually it is limited to 2.5m/s). All points gained during all trials will be summed together. The trial starts at a specified time and ends after 30 minutes. The robot must leave the start area within 10 minutes of the start. If the robot does not move for a 60 second its trial ends. Each team has to arrange for one person familiar with the rules that will be part of the referee team during the competition.
A team can participate in the contest if it is able to score at least one point. Necessary condition is the ability to travel 10 meters long route fragment without collision with an obstacle. The start procedure will be tested (automatic start) as well as the functionality of the EMERGENCY STOP. Usage of liquids, corrosive, pyrotechnic material and live beings is strictly prohibited. Every robot has to be accompanied by a team member, older 18 years, who is fully responsible for the robot behavior.
Every team has to provide basic technical documentation about their robot (for presentations, general public and journalists). Three winning teams will be asked for more detail description for website presentation and easier entry of novices in the next year.
Robots BODY a TAIL from previous years can participate in a new category "WagonOpen". Scoring of this category will be independent of the main contest and the primary motivation is to give a chance to novice teams. This contest will have 3 rounds and the goal is to follow a leading robot. Every robot (wagon) will have a ramp for placing beacons to link together several robot in a convoy. Details will be specified in FAQ1. Robot restrictions and score for intelligence and payload will be adopted from main contest, so that the robot hardware could be used for the next year participation in the main category.
Basic differences between last and this year contests
- Simultaneous start of all robot from one, beforehand unknown, place.
- It is prohibited to map contest area before contest itself. Teams can instead use shared map on which creation they can actively participate.
- Convoy of robots HEAD, BODY a TAIL is not supported.
- Every robot must be able to carry 5l barrel of beer (at least empty).
- Exact position of destination will be known 10min before start.
- Automatic start via timer.
- Instead of PAUSE button only EMERGENCY STOP button is required. It could be used in any dangerous situation - for example in case of robot failure. Pressing it means end of trial.
- For the Big Red Switch is not possible to use a keyboard (yes, it is remarkable, that still after several years some teams do not get it). Just attach to your robot easily accessible red switch. Without this BRS robot won't be accepted to the contest.
- There is no restriction of an obstacle size. There could be even cases, when the whole path is blocked and it is impossible to avoid it.
- There will be no extra beacon available.
- There will be no category "free style".
- It is still possible to honk on an obstacle, but it will have effect only in cases of curious grandma. On the other hand bench won't notice honking. The same holds for other robots or banana paper boxes.
Where and when?
For the general public the contest will be held on Saturday September 18th 2010 in Bratislava/Slovakia, 10-17h in one of three preselected parks. In the case of very bad weather the contest can be postponed to Sunday.
For the teams this will be three-day-event: there will be homologations on Friday, contest on Saturday and a small workshop on Sunday (theme "what is actually hidden in your unique machines").