Campus News

Northern Bites Off to Winning Start at RoboCup 2009 World Championship Games

Story posted July 01, 2009

The Northern Bites, Bowdoin's RoboCup team, have two wins under their belts at the 2009 World Championship competition going on through July 5 in Graz, Austria.

Bowdoin won its first match, 2-0, over the Eagle Knights, a team from Mexico.

Broken Robot200.jpg
An "injured" Northern Bites team member, its head held fast with tape, suffered a broken neck. Nao technicians have been helping to repair damaged robots.

"The match started with Bowdoin putting a shot literally on the Eagle Knight's goal line," said Eric Chown, the team's advisor.

"Bowdoin then walked up to the ball and proceeded to kick it straight into the goal post where it bounced out towards midfield. The half ended 0-0. In the second half, Bowdoin dominated the play scoring two quick goals and was threatening to score a third as the match ended."

Bowdoin won its second match by a score of 2-0 over Nao Team HTWK from Germany, which came off a second-place finish in the German Open.

The team now advances to a second round of pool play. The Northern Bites have one match on Thursday and two on Friday. They'll be in a pool of four teams, two of which will advance to the quarterfinals.

Color Corrections

Chown says the team discovered a bug in their computer code, which explains why all of their goals so far have been scored as the red team (the robots alternate using red and blue markings).

A snapshot of what the robots saw before the color issue was addressed.

"The goal posts here are essentially the same color as the uniforms," explains Chown.

"Also, when we look sideways we see our shoulders, which are blue or red depending on which team we are. We discovered that we thought we were seeing blue goals every time we looked sideways when we were blue, which meant we never had a great idea of where we were. Fixing this should really help."

Visit the RoboCup Web site.

The Northern Bites humanoid team took fourth place at the 2009 RoboCup U.S. Open for the Standard Platform League, held May 2 and 3 at Sidney J. Watson Arena.

The Northern Bites four-legged team won the 2008 U.S. Open held in Pittsburgh, Pa. In 2007, the Northern Bites were the RoboCup world champions in the four-legged league.

Northern Bites Blog

Follow the play-by-play account of Bowdoin's Northern Bites humanoid robots as they compete in the 2009 RoboCup World Championship Games in Austria.

Visit the Northern Bites Blog.

This year the International RoboCup Committee has switched from the Sony Aibo robot dog to the Nao, a humanoid model made by Aldebaran.

In this year's competition, there will be four robots per team, competing on a 4.4 by 6.8 meter field.

This evolution, which continually brings the rules more in line with "real" soccer, reflects RoboCup's goal as it strives to fulfill its mission statement: "By the year 2050, develop a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots that can win against the human world soccer champion team."

The robots operate with no external control by humans or computers, and are executing programs written entirely by Bowdoin students, who must also calibrate the robots to each new environment — particularly with regard to color vision.

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