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Robotics Software Linux

Build Your Own Soccer-Playing Robot 129

Posted by michael
from the he-shoots...-he-scores dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This article by a Ph.D student at Shanghai JiaoTong University (SJTU) Research Institute of Robotics describes an RTLinux-powered robot that placed fifth in the most recent RoboCup competition. The robot has two color cameras for visual sensing along with a laser range finder (LRF) for goalkeeper location, and a wireless LAN allows communication among the robots on SJTU's team. The robot's embedded operating system is Red Hat Linux enhanced with the RTLinuxPro real-time extension."
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Build Your Own Soccer-Playing Robot

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  • 5th? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Wouldn't it be better to learn from the team who came first?
    • Would you also care to explain why most of us who do not have the knowledge to come 5th cannot learn from them?
    • by phaln (579585)
      Fifth place needs love, too!
    • Wouldn't it be better to learn from the team who came first?

      How the hell is this comment modded insightful? Parent obviously has no clue how much time, effort and skill is required to make an autonomous robot at all. I'd consider it to be a major success if those robots work well enough to play soccer. Coming first or fifth in a tournament, well that's quite irrelevant. Even those teams that don't win, may have some technical areas which are more advanced to those that win.

  • From the summary: "The robot's embedded operating system is Red Hat Linux enhanced with the RTLinuxPro real-time extension."

    Using Red Hat for embedding in a robot application? Sounds like an awful poor choice of tools, if you ask me.

    • by KingPunk (800195)
      well, Linux, is only the kernel. the rest is just choice of userland tools/patches etc.

      RTL stands for Real Time Linux, and its a patch that can be easily applied to any Linux kernel
      that is relatively recent, but iirc, it works best on 2.6+.. Redhat, whilist a crappy "OS" overall due to their way of handling stuff, doesn't make their kernel any less effective as a RealTime kernel.
      espically since its commerically supported if you coughed up the dough.

      props to all my unix brethren ;)
    • Really, they won't use anything as cool as you think they'll use. Probably just some kids thinking they're playing a game running these robotic warriors..err..soccer players...by remote control. But, look at my handle... what else would you expect me to think of?
    • Err actually out of the available choices, Red Hat was probably the best to go with. Red Hat does more with the kernel and embedded linux systems then any other major distro on the market. Who would you have recommended?
      Regards,
      Steve
    • That's why my team [cmu.edu] uses Debian :P

      Personally we've never really found a use for Realtime extensions; Robots are a pretty soft-realtime application becuase the complex algorithms need to be interruptable for debugging. It's way too easy for vision or path planning to take more than the alloted time.

      Plain Linux does pretty well at handling the event loop; Most teams are simply event driven off of vision frames, with the motion control loop handled by custom embedded hardware on the robot.
      • we've never really found a use for Realtime extensions ... Plain Linux does pretty well at handling the event loop

        Have to agree with you on that. I've been doing real-time Linux programs for the last six years, and only studied RT-Linux a bit to come to the conclusion that it's only worth the effort for some extreme cases.

        OK, my systems aren't true "real time", so what? When they have been running for years (longest continuous uptime nearly 4 years, broken by a failed power supply) who cares about the ac

        • When they have been running for years (longest continuous uptime nearly 4 years, broken by a failed power supply) who cares about the academic definition of "real time"?

          Uptime is orthogonal to whether the OS can guarantee a timeslice to a particular program within a particular period of time.

          • Uptime is orthogonal to whether the OS can guarantee a timeslice to a particular program within a particular period of time.

            No, it's not. A system in the BSOD state cannot guarantee any timeslice at all to any application. And when I say the system has been runnig, I mean the application has been working correctly, getting all the timeslices it needs.

            From your answer I gather that you didn't understand anything that I wrote. Let me rephrase it. With the normal Linux task scheduler, for most so-called "re

            • No, it's not.

              Yes, in fact, it is: the definition of "real-time" says nothing about the uptime of the machine, only that the machine must guarantee a process a certain amount of CPU time within a given period of time while the machine is running.

              From your answer I gather that you didn't understand the point I was trying to make: just because it's working for you and hasn't failed in 4 years doesn't make it "Real-Time" (TM).

              That's all. I'm happy that it works for you.

    • Using Red Hat for embedding in a robot application? Sounds like an awful poor choice of tools, if you ask me.

      It's no embedded system in the traditional sense - basically, they just put a general purpose laptop on wheels.

    • I work in a major mobile-computing company, and from what I know redhat is a popular embedded linux OEM. They make RedBoot -- an equivalent of lilo for embedded devices, and customized kernels for your devices.
  • by tiktok (147569) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @02:13AM (#11446271) Homepage
    They were experimenting with robot soccer players that ran on Windows, but unfortunately they couldn't get them to run for 90 minutes straight.
    • So did the robots turn blue and die or did the OS need to be reloaded?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 23, 2005 @02:17AM (#11446292)
      LOL. Even Microsoft's own gaming development company made fun of the Blue screen in Halo 2 Zanzibar map.
    • I don't mind a MS joke guys, but can we please move to the 'security' stuff, which is at least topical? It's not funny when for most purposes, and most people, today's Windows works for months straight.
      • Depends on your Karma, or something. Every month I encounter a blue screen of death sitting by one of my colleagues. (Windows experience (good name!) and 2000 (poor name!) ). And in just under a year of using windows on my working computer, the thing refused to boot --- safe mode or no.

        Well, I have no time for fighting the OS. Installed first SuSE (which was crappy), then Debian (which needed a crucial package, libc6.1 or something) and finally stuck with Mandrake. NOW it works. The things we have to do...

        • Yeah, I guess it depends on Karma, or hardware, or something.On the Linux side, I thought Debian was more than satisfactory, the libc thing sounds like a Karma thing too : )
          • Yeah, the Debian thing could probably be fixed, probably by using some unofficial package source or something. I needed it to install db2.

            I just didn't want to go there. Going for unofficial sources is just asking for trouble.

    • Laugh all you want, but Windows-based teams dominate 2 out of the 3 RoboCup soccer leagues. For small size, the top three teams are Windows-based:
      1 - Fu-Fighters (Germany)
      2 - RoboRoos (Australia)
      3 - LuckyStar (Singapore)
      4 - CMRoboDragons (USA & Japan) - go Linux!
      In the dogs (Aibos), the Aibo itself is running Sony's Aperios operating system, but then there's the platform on which all the development is based:
      1 - German Team (Germany, duh)
      2 - UTS Unleashed (Australia)
      3 - NuBots (Aus
    • You mean the robos really started to work... OMG that's a great achivement for Microsoft...
  • Robo-Fans. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 23, 2005 @02:15AM (#11446280)
    Are they going to build robot fans that tear up the town when their team loses?
  • Soccer cyborgs (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Could these be used in combat? Just replace the soccer ball with a rocket launcher.

    --
    Get a Free Mac Mini! See Website for Details. [slashdot.us]
    • I hardly think kicking rocket launchers at people will be an effective military strategy.
    • AAAARRRGHHH!
      As any member of any RoboCup team would tell you, NO! It's not that we don't like BattleBots, but (1) they aren't autonomous, and (2) we get asked this like 50 times a year. Fully autonomous Soccer is a very different reasearch problem from constructing a RC fighting vehicle.

      (sorry, I'm a bit touchy on this subject)
  • I hear predictions about robots taking the World Cup in 2050, and it certainly seems like we're moving that way. Still, I'm holding out for some Cyberball-style action -- that's where it's at.
  • After the robots done performing it's primary objective is the secondary objective becoming a fat, cocaine snorting Hedonismbot?
  • by Michael Hunt (585391) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @02:37AM (#11446351) Homepage
    Now all we gotta do is wait for this thing to score an own goal and it'll get shot at the airport on its way home.

    I love soccer fans :)
  • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @02:44AM (#11446367) Journal

    First we got robot soldiers and now we got robot soccer players. What we really need are robotic Mexican soccer announcers:

    cout << "He shoots!" << endl;
    cout << "He scores!" << endl;
    cout << "G";
    for (int i = 0; i < 10000; ++i)
    {
    cout << "o";
    }
    cout << "al!" << endl;

    GMD

  • by dhj (110274) * on Sunday January 23, 2005 @02:47AM (#11446383)
    Last time I saw a post about this on Slashdot [slashdot.org] Vision [sansokan.jp] was boasting they would be able to win the World Cup in 2050... I felt the need to call bullshit on that boast, but for the wrong reason.

    The reason I called bullshit originally is because I remember seeing an amazing achievement in robot dexterity in 1998. The Honda prototype, Asimo, slowly, precisely and precariously walk up a few steps without toppling. After seeing that robot hobble up some stairs, my response to a humanoid robot with soccer player dexterity within 45 years was a predictable... Bullshit.

    If you were thinking the same thing... Take a look at these pics and vids [robocup2004.pt]. They are impressive. They just might have soccer player dexterity by 2050. Without having to worry about getting tired or even slowing down they could pose a major threat (in soccer, put your tinfoil hat back on).

    However, I'm still going to call bullshit. Mainly because soccer, unlike chess, deals with full freedom of motion in a 3D field. Computers only recently were able to master chess on a world competition level with intense processing [ibm.com]. Chess is played on an 8x8 field, with significant, but limited, branching. The 3D nature of soccer (or even the 2D nature of novice soccer) presents branching that could be arguably higher than that of Go [ishipress.com]. Combine that with the fact that soccer players aren't going to wait a turn for the computer to "think". This is my new reason for calling bullshit on a Robot 2050 World Cup Champion.

    But, damn if those robot control systems aren't impressive. I wouldn't mind eating these words. Robots are cool.

    --David
    • who's workin' on the goalie?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Dude, go rent a Fifa Soccer videogame.

      The strategy of soccer is not an insurmountable AI problem.

      The problem in soccer is moving one's body to where it needs to be in the time it needs to get there. The problems are first visual (how does the robot know where it is, it's team mates, the ball, etc.) and second control (how does the robot know how to run without falling over, kick at the right speed, etc.). Now, in a videogame, these things aren't issues, just the strategy. Thus, you can see that the strate
    • Remember, only the *best* team has to beat humans by 2050. It's a lofty goal, but with something like 150+ teams pre-registered for 2005 (total for 4 leagues), I think we might be able to reach it. I've been doing RoboCup since 1999, and you would not believe the progress just in the last 6 years. I do think its self-centered BS for any particular team to claim *they* will reach the 2050 goal, but I don't think its so bad to say *some* team will.

      Humanoids need to advance in hardware, but look at the oth
    • Suppose that the robot is simply capable of running 250mph with the ball...

      And the robot goalie? Simply following the ball and capable of accelerating with 50G...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    LRFs go for several thousands of dollars currently. Unless you have a lot of cash lying around, I doubt the "build it yourself" robot will have one.
  • 01000111 01001111 01000001 01001100 00100001 00100001 00100001 00100001 00100001 00100001 (GOAL!!!!!!)
  • That's amazing. Years ago kids at school used to call me a robot-playing sucker, and now I'm building my own soccer-playing robot. Who's laughing now? Losers!
    • Ha haa, you robot-playing sucker!
      • That's amazing. Years ago kids at school used to call me a robot-playing sucker, and now I'm building my own soccer-playing robot. Who's laughing now? Losers!

        Ha haa, you robot-playing sucker!

        Seriously, I have no idea why the grandparent post is not Score:5, Funny yet.

  • by Timesprout (579035) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @03:42AM (#11446555)
    Until they build a robot that obsesses about its appearance and is embarassingly caught shagging the nanny robot.

    They build an expensive robot that indulges in some high frequency snorting to improve its 'off the field' performance.

    They build another expensive robot that 'forgets' to turn up for mandatory checks and goes shopping instead.

    A robot admits it tried to deliberately damage another robot in a revenge tackle.

    Slapper robots are developed which can be 'roasted' by the football robots.

    One of the new generation super robots is photographed leaving a brothel populated by pvc wearing granny robots (probably the current robots recycled a few times).
  • SCO was disqualified for repeatedly faking injuries for a red card.
  • robots beating humans is definitely antihammer hammerrevolution.com [slashdot.org] --;
  • by SnowZero (92219) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @05:34AM (#11446773)
    If you really want to build your own, why not start from a team with open-source software or published robot designs?

    RoboRoos [mu.oz.au] - Currently the software release seems to be down, but a friendly email to them would probably fix it.
    CMDragons [cmu.edu] - My team (whee shameless plug). Our complete 2002 software is available (runs on Debian). RedZone robotics is currently selling a robot based on our design.
    RoboRoos [uq.edu.au] - These guys have done very well the last couple of years, and have a fair amount of information online as well.
  • Well at least where I come from.

    No accident that the organising world body is Called FIFA, the european one EUFA and the English one FA.

    Top marks to the person who can tell me what FA stands for !
  • by hasst (852296)
    Dude, this is a Chinese Robot! Based on my previous experience with rare chinese hardware it does not have any documentation and it will take you days before finding out how the darn thing is supposed to work. So, I'm still waiting for the violent iron made german robot that plays Rammstein, kicks ass and from time to time wants to take over the world. It's fun, expensive, and well documended (german engineering at it's best!). History will prove me right ;-)
    • ...but your English teacher will prove you wrong.
    • So, I'm still waiting for the violent iron made german robot that plays Rammstein, kicks ass and from time to time wants to take over the world. It's fun, expensive, and well documended (german engineering at it's best!).

      And I'm waiting for the Japanese-made household android with overly large eyes, cat ears and a hidden hentai mode ;).

      Unfortunately, catgirl androids might qualify as weapons of mass destruction :(.

  • I always thought it mean "Little Rubber Feet".
  • Why would you bother with either of those OS's anyway? It's not like you need any preemptive multitasking features in such a small application anyway.

    The teams would be better off ditching their OS and putting everything in a tight loop on a simple roll your own kernel. The time saved not having to configure the OS and its real time extensions could be instead spent on game logic.

    • Actually, having a fully preemptive multithreaded enviroment is incredibly useful for a robot.

      In my wheeled two-motor robot using a Lego Mindstorms as the computer, I spawned several threads at startup. One thread handled navigation; ten times a second it woke up, read the current position of the wheels, and updated the robot's knowledge of its position and orientation. Another thread handled incoming communications over the IR link with the main computer. Another thread handled low-level driving routines,
      • At a certain point of complexity, I fully agree to use a real OS. However for many of these smaller applications, an OS is overkill.

        Not every application needs an operating system. Remember they landed on the moon with a computer that had only 4k of storage. That computer definitely did not have an RTOS.

  • what does this mean for drug testing in soccer? Will they be scanning the robots for P2P applications instead?
  • With no end in site with regards to the NHL lockout, how about creating a hockey playing robot? :)

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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