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Watch Heise's Robot Challenge In Progress 30

osolemirnix writes: "Starting today, the Robot Challenge initiated by c't Magazine / Heise Publishing takes place at the Systems computer fair show in Munich, Germany. The robots have to collect trash while driving through a maze (2x3 meters) and and deliver the trash in a special color-coded area. They have about 40 entries of bots and the challenge goes on all week, so check it out if you're at the Systems. Unfortunately the robot challenge web pages are in german, but you can check the live webcams here." So either quickly learn German, or use the Fish. The current c't (print) magazine has great pictures of the competing robots, too.
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Watch Heise's Robot Challenge In Progress

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  • by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) <ted&fc,rit,edu> on Monday October 15, 2001 @08:21AM (#2430131) Homepage
    If robots are picking up trash now, will janitors be sent into space or making cars?
  • Just Curious.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by perdida on ( 528453 )
    Is there any application for this kind of robotics? If I were a director of robotics research institute, I would enthusiastically fund robotics research that collected trash, school our children, do our work, etc -- any kind of knowledge we need for a automated society.

    Basic science is nice, but erstwhile HAL 9000's probably wouldn't find the mundane tasks very relevant.
  • Future trend? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ( 463614 )
    So, can this be the kickoff for future urban renovation companies? Imagine an army of robots removing litter from the streets of NYC 24-7-365...

    Perhaps there is a Clean Future (TM)?
    • Re:Future trend? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BadDoggie ( 145310 )
      NYC already has the army. They're called "the homeless." They collect and sort not only deposit bottles and cans, but anything else that can be sold for recycling or otherwise.

      For a selection of "pre-owned" books, shoes, hair dryers, dolls, pans, whatever-the-hell-that-thing-might-be, head over to 6th Ave around 22nd St. or better yet, stroll through what is affectionately known as "Slumingdale's" at 2nd Ave below St. Mark's at night. No, really.


      • Great nick, especially since I wanted to reply to's question by suggesting that such robots might be useful for getting rid of piles of dogshit in the streets :)
        • full of dog shit or not, how long do you think these expensive autonomous devices would last on the streets of any large city or town before someone botnaps it! ;)
  • or use google (Score:3, Informative)

    by rootofevil ( 188401 ) on Monday October 15, 2001 @08:33AM (#2430149) Homepage Journal
    google translation [] []
  • I always thought the SYSTRAN [] translator worked better than Altavista. This translation of the main webpage is mostly readable:

    Robot Challenge link from the story [].

  • actualy there is not much information on that page. There are 40 robots that each compete in one of two challenges. First one is that garbage collection on a 2x3 meter parcour where that robot wins which has collected the garbage at the least time in three tries.
    Secondly there is a 'freestyle' competition where a jury prices the most inventive robot without any guidelines. In this competition there are robots which serve, climb facedes, observe rooms or disperse grasshoppers.
    Winners get prizes with a total value of DM 15000 appr. 7500$
  • exploratorium SF (Score:2, Informative)

    by shibut ( 208631 )
    A place this side of the atlantic that has robot competitions is the Exploratorium in SF. They have different categories, including Sumo Wrestling Robots []. This year's competition was last month, here's [] a list of the events. A few years ago I saw this in person and thought it was great (very crowded, though). Too bad I'm on the other coast now.
  • 40 years ago, ceratin "futurists" envisioned a world where domestic duties such as picking up trash and cleaning were done by a multitude of small robots. How strange that, albeit 20 years later than planned, we actually do have robots that pick up trash!

    Can't be too long 'till the 30-hour workweek! Woohoo!
  • The robot I really want doesn't just pick up trash, it has the ability to determin if the paper I just picked up is critical to current buisnees and accidently lost or just scrap that missed the can. The the former case I want it to make an attempt to get it back to me.

    The above is true though, only so long as the robots are open source - or at least I have some good assurance that the robot is only reading the paper to find me, and than will forget what it says, robots that read my papers and pass the contents to my enimies are a bad thing.

  • small bots (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jlemmerer ( 242376 )
    hm, with a maze of 2x3 meters these robots must be quite small. good for collectin trahs but the problem will be people treading on them. I think bots should be bigger for better usability, so that they can autonomously mow the lawn or collect litter in parks... maybe you can also sell them for home use (maybe collecting my clothes)
  • Daleks (Score:3, Funny)

    by Root Down ( 208740 ) on Monday October 15, 2001 @10:15AM (#2430577) Homepage
    Next year's competition will apparently involve chasing a middle aged man in a multicolored scarf in and out of a red phone booth / police box.
  • Does anyone know any details on how they have those robot recognize trash from non-trash and the colors and all?

    While I'm at it; back in the days of the Atari ST there was a toolkit called AIM(Atari Image Manager or something?) which enabled one to do a bit of that. Does anyone know if it has been ported?
  • by YKnot ( 181580 ) on Monday October 15, 2001 @05:23PM (#2433234)

    The first day of the robot contest is over and Heise Online has posted a report [] on some of the most memorable events. Here's the translation of the linked page:

    Today was the first day of the c't robot challenge at the Systems in Munich and a rather simple construction based on Lego Mindstorms made for a genuine surprise: The roughly soccer ball sized robot, which isn't equipped with any kind of camera sensors und is thus called "Stevie Wonder" by its creators, completed the "cleaning bot" challenge in only 6 minutes and 24 seconds on its second attempt. On the first attempt it had erroneously moved one of the garbage objects out of the target area and on the third attempt it drove onto a wooden garbage object of the "cigarette box" type, making the tracks lose ground contact. According to the contest rules, the best - the second - attempt counts. "Stevie's" success was above all astounding because, though being a relatively simple robot compared to other constructions in this contest, it unerringly moved the red cans and wooden cuboids, which served as garbage objects, into the blue "recycling area". The construction team around Wolfgang Lang from Roetenbach first anticipated problems connected to the cigarette box sized wooden objects: The "Stevie" creators had expected real cigarette boxes and had therefore built the robot with that kind of less sturdy lightweight objects in mind. Then however, two hair ties, which they borrowed from a Heise employee, were successfully used to tune "Stevie's" mechanics.

    This day's other candidates had to face more or less serious disappointments: Wolfgang Draxinger's Fishertechnik Computing based "Mr. Proper" suffered from blasted power transistors, which forced the student to do without the intelligently designed gathering mechanics of his robot and instead redesign concept and software to use only pushing. Since some contestants didn't show up, the referees could grant him some time for reprogramming, but in the end, "Mr. Propper" wouldn't move at all, or required interactive commands respectively, so Draxinger had to give up with a heavy heart.

    Team Metavox from Meerbusch had some more success: Their swivel flap equipped "Metabot", which is based on a self-made platform, showed a heart-warming tendency to hug walls, but at least mastered part of the challenge. In the first two rounds, it didn't manage to leave the starting room. In order to create a secondary ranking for those robots, which couldn't find the target area on their own, the referees allowed the camera equipped "Metabot" to start right in the doorway to the room with the target area, after which it moved five of six garbage objects into the recycling area after all. In order to find the direction of choice, the robot turns in small steps and tries to estimate distances. Then it rushes in the direction with the most free space at rather high speed. In doing so it hit walls and corners several times. The design team around Christian Winkgen shrugged off the orientation weaknesses of the rolling speed merchant: "Metabot" had been built for fun, and maybe it simply had a hard time correctly telling the colors of the contest arena apart.

    The contest continues. Right now, "Stevie" is not only the audience's favorite, it is also on top of the current rankings. But nothing is decided yet: If all contestants who have been assigned a timeslot show up, there will be 33 more performances. Today three of the candidates where absent without notice, so it can't be predicted what will happen in the next days, but the contest will certainly stay exciting.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?