Abbie Roberts reports on how UOB’s Robotics Club got on at the internation final of Eurobot in Paris.
UBRobotics competed in their first international final of Eurobot Open, despite the club only being founded in February 2015. The team travelled across the channel with their two robots to one of the most well-known university level robotics competition in Paris, with little idea of what to expect.
Eurobot was created in 1998 to give students the opportunity to design, build and program an autonomous robot, or wired control for Eurobot Junior, to compete against other teams from around the world. Every year the theme is different but various tasks such as: pick and place, color detection, and obstacle (or opponent) avoidance – are always included. Each team is allowed a primary and secondary robot, however it is not compulsory to have a secondary, with the only difference in specification being the maximum perimeter.
There were three UK teams who qualified for the international rounds, with the other two being from Southampton University. After placing 3rd at the nationals, UBRobotics realised they need to up their game and therefore structural modifications were made between the national and international rounds. Secondary robot, Danbot was completely rebuilt to ensure a stronger structure, while primary robot, Freedom, got a new set of wheels. The morning after arrival in Paris, the team made the most of the practice sessions before entering the rigorous homologation process to ensure static and dynamic specifications were met.
After a short lunch break, which many teams worked through, the heats began, with three on the first day and two on the following day. The robots started off strong placing 17th in the rankings after the first heat. However, the arena in Paris proved a challenge for Freedom and Danbot as the surface was rougher than experienced at the national round. After battling their way through the 3 points-accumulator heats on the first day the team managed to hang in and remain standing halfway through the rankings out of the 34 teams that entered.
Decisions were made to just use the secondary robot as Freedom was inhibiting Danbot from reaching its highest potential from a points perspective. This meant a late night for the team to ensure that the programming was foolproof, as little could be done about the physical structure, to ensure that the robot was reliable and consistent in every match on the preceding day.
After the heats had been completed on the second day, the team dropped to 22nd in the rankings meaning that they did not qualify for the eighth finals, however they did not let this dampen their spirits and decided to cheer on the rest of the UK teams. The president of the club said “We can take a lot from this and have learnt so much. We now know how to improve for next year”. After all of the UK teams were knocked out, the team was able to sit back and enjoy spectating some of the finest teams in Europe and beyond. The winners were the French team RCVA, who have dominated the competition for the previous few years, and placing second and third were the Serbian teams MBS and M41+.
More information about the competition, full results and rules can be found at eurobot.org.