Day Ten

We started our last full day in Japan with a long trek to Nagoya Castle. The castle dates back to the 1600s and was kept mostly intact until parts of it were destroyed in World War II. Those parts were soon after restored. The castle was Japan’s first official national treasure. We spent most of the morning there before heading back to Nagoya Station. Some of us went back to the hotel, as after the past week and a half many of us are exhausted. The rest of the team shopped around the mall by Nagoya station.

The whole team went out for one last dinner together, partially to commemorate the trip and partially because one of our own, Morgan Williams, had a birthday today. We went to a shabu-shabu restaurant, which consists of a pot of broth in the middle of the table. You pour in vegetables and cook very thinly sliced meat yourself. After you are done with the meat they use the broth to cook noodles. We then got ice cream to truly celebrate her birthday.

This will be the last blog post of RoboCup 2017, as tomorrow we will be travelling back to the states. We improved greatly from last year, nearly tripling our previous score. We also absorbed the culture as much as possible. Thank you all for following along, and check out our Facebook for last minute photos and videos from the trip!

Day Nine


On day nine our whole team collectively took a breath and relaxed for the first time since getting back to Nagoya. Not advancing to finals was bittersweet, as that meant we were done competing, but we also had a chance to watch the finals.
One quick update from yesterday’s blog, Noah Swindlehurst unfortunately did not advance into the finals of the drone flying competition. However, I do have a few photos and a video of his flying skills.

When we arrived this morning at the RoboCup, the first thing we did was take apart Robert the robot and pack it back up into cases. We then took a few hours to watch the finals of the rescue competition along with robot soccer and the juniors of rapidly manufactured robots.
As for the rescue robot finals, it was dramatic. The standings finished with iRap robot from Thailand in second place and YRA from Iran winning. iRap was winning going into finals, but partway through one of the runs their robot started smoking and eventually caught fire. Everyone was okay, but the Thai team was pretty disappointed.
Later in the day, the whole team went out to Karaoke to bond. I would give you the highlights from the night, but every song was performed so well I don’t think any one took the cake.

Day Eight

For the final days of preliminaries, we started the day off extremely strong. Stephanie Roberts attempted the center task once again. Yesterday, she earned four points on it. Today, she increased our score on the task to twenty, with four multiplier points and five full runs of the course.

She continued her run of success when she started the align task, where the robot needs to cross a bridge of two planks set to the distance of the robot’s treads. We’ve tried the task both of the other days and failed each time, but today, Stephanie earned eight points, with two cycles of the course and four readiness multipliers.

After those successes, Jack Rickman was up to attempt the omni-directional pipes.

In this task, we get points for four things the grasper can do: inspect, touch, rotate, and extract. To inspect we need to position our grasper in such a way that the camera attached to it can see inside the pipe. Touching the top of the pipe with the grasper also gains a point. Points for rotation can only be won is the cap on top of the pipe rotates a full 180 degrees. Finally, after the grasper needs to pick up the cap and place it into a box to the side of the pipes to get points for extraction. After some technical difficulties, Jack managed to score two points on this task.

From there, we went on to the similar parallel pipes task. The task is the exact same, except the pipes are set up with a 90º angle with the ground. We got off on a bit of a rough start, but eventually Jack earned 12 points, 4 more than yesterday.

Unfortunately, that was where our triumphs stopped. Jack tried the negotiate task one last time, and we couldn’t navigate through all the makeshift rubble. Stephanie then attempted the hurdles challenge which involved going down two steps backwards, go up those steps forwards, and go down a step twice as steep. We were able to go down the first steps, but we couldn’t manage to ascend the stairs again.

Sadly, that was the end of our competing in RoboCup for 2017, as we did not qualify for finals tomorrow. On a happier note, Noah Swindlehurst qualified for the second round of drone flying, so keep a look out for updates about that on our Twitter. Check out our Facebook for photos from the trip.

Day Seven

We started day seven with a driver switch up, as Jack Rickman took the wheel for the align task. Unfortunately, issues with balance prevented us from gaining any points that round.

Those same issues with balance damaged our arm, which caused us to scramble to prepare for the next task: shielding. For shielding you need to take triangular prism blocks and create a wall with the pieces. We weren’t able to earn any points then, but we were successful on the next tasks.

Jack Rickman skillfully maneuvered our robot on the parallel pipes. Here there are multiple sets of 5 PVC pipes sticking up from the ground with caps on them. To complete the task you need to touch the center of the cap with the center of your grasper. We tapped three caps, so, with the readiness multipliers, we earned 8 points.

From there, Stephanie Roberts started driving again for one of the tasks she did yesterday, traverse. She greatly improved compared to yesterday, and we left that task with 32 more points.

Unfortunately, our luck didn’t last. When we moved on to the door task, our arm was malfunctioning. Carson Knoer tried his hardest with only the shoulder joint working, but it couldn’t be done.

After switching drivers once more back to Stephanie, we attempted the center task. Stephanie maneuvered through a corner which was narrowed to force the robot to take a sharp turn. She finished one run in the time allotted, earning four more point for the team. All in all, we ended the day with 47 points, almost doubling the amount of points we earned in the whole of last year’s competition.

Finally, at the end of the day they allowed all competitors to enter a drone flying contest. The hope is to compile data about how easy it is to train and teach novices how to fly a drone, so they used the competitors here to create a sample size. Many of the RKRS team partook in the opportunity. Thirty people went tonight, and the top ten are allowed to go on tomorrow. Check in on our Twitter to see if anyone from RKRS made it and take a look at more photos from the trip on our Facebook.

Day Six

Day six is here and with it comes the competition. We started the day off strong, earning points on the crossover task, where the robot needs to traverse uneven, slanted blocks. Congratulations to our driver on that task, Stephanie Roberts.

From there, we went to the cylindrical pipes, but, unfortunately, we did not have time to get our wrist working properly and complete the task. Carson Knoer was the driver for that task, and his infectious optimism has all of us convinced that we will be able to complete these tasks next time.

The next task was traverse, going up and down an incline. Stephanie was extremely successful and scored us the more points than in any task we have completed so far. We then continued to make improvements on our robot to prepare for the task of opening a door with the grasper and maneuvering through it. Unfortunately, we didn’t successfully complete that one. Carson is confident in his abilities, though, as there were connectivity issues between the monitors and the cameras which made seeing the door knob extremely difficult.

We then switched drivers back to Stephanie for the negotiation task: driving through a series of slanted pipes without breaking any pipes. With this task, as with all of them, it is important to remember that the driver can only see from the cameras positioned on the robot. While the task may look relatively simple, with only some of the information it is extremely challenging. We nearly completed this task, which is especially impressive considering only one team so far today has been successful. While we didn’t score any points, the run was a success, as we realized we could do one of the dexterity readiness tests. The number of points we earn on each task is multiplied by the number of readiness tests done. This means that being capable of the dexterity readiness tests could earn us many more points later on.

Our final task of the day was the align task. Matthew Nyberg drove the robot. While we didn’t earn any points, we have a game plan for the next time we attempt this task.

Another exciting opportunity for RKRS: Lauren Copland is a deputy judge for the Curb task (pictured below). She’s learned the ins and outs of the judging process while closely observing the competition’s robots. As always take a look at more photos from the trip on our Facebook and check in on our Twitter daily for more timely updates.

Day Five

Day five was a second set up and test day for the robots. Morgan Williams and I started interviewing the different teams and administrators at the request of the Test Director, Adam Jacoff. Look here for those videos after the competition has finished. Here are photos and videos from the day. Check out our Facebook for more photos of the trip and our Twitter for immediate updates about our progress.

Day Four

Day four was filled with setting up the robot for the competition. We have two days before the RoboCup officially starts to assemble and run tests on our robot.

The first thing we did was organize our workspace. Kudos to Morgan Williams and Sophie Herrmann for sorting and labeling every last tool. See below for part of the finished product.

After our pit was set up, we assembled the robot. The rest of the day was spent running tests and troubleshooting any problems that arose. We also spent plenty of time admiring the other robots in the room.

We had our first opportunity to talk to the other teams and check out their robots. After talking to other competitors and coaches, we learned that one reason teams keep coming back to RoboCup is the amount of interaction between teams. Collaboration is a key component of RoboCup. Oftentimes teams will compare the different ways they went about building various components of robots, like arms and tracks. Being the only high school in the major league, we gleaned as much information as possible in the hopes of continually improving our robot.

The day was filled with ups and downs, but the good news is that we have the entirety of tomorrow to run tests and make last minute improvements. The other good news is that the convention center is right next to Legoland.

It was a long day, we worked right up until they shut off the power and kicked us out. Hopefully we get a well deserved, good night’s sleep before getting up for another long day tomorrow. Follow our twitter here and like our Facebook page here for more photos and updates!