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Robotics Software Linux

Build Your Own Soccer-Playing Robot 129

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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  • 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.

  • by SnowZero ( 92219 ) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @04:48AM (#11446675)
    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 (Australia)
    4 - UPennalizers (USA) - mixed Win/Linux IIRC
    The remainder is the midsize, in which Linux does very well. That's because large embedded systems (i.e. 40cm cubic robots) are very well suited for Linux and not so much for Windows (For example, being able to ssh into the robot and run code is nice).

    The CMU teams of which I am a part (CMRoboDragons, CMPack) are 100% Linux and proud of it, but Windows does much better than you'd think. Cornell's small size team even gets money from Microsoft (they're a 4-time champion).
  • by SnowZero ( 92219 ) on Sunday January 23, 2005 @05:21AM (#11446737)
    2 of the 3 RoboCup soccer leauges already have red cards, believe it or not. Probably the craziest thing I've ever seen in 6 years of RoboCup was in 1999, in a game between FU-Fighters (Germany) and RobotIS (Korea) in the small size leauge. Small size robots are up to 180mm in diameter, and up to 150mm tall. Germany had robots where the "kicker" was an 800 RPM spinning aluminum metal plate, while robotIS had tiny robots (from another leauge). At one point Germany's robot kicked one of the RobotIS robots completely into the air! It did a complete flip, and when it landed, it just kept on playing, which was almost more amazing. Not suprisingly there were several red cards in that game.
  • 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.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein