Robots are complicated and don’t always work correctly. That is why it is often far easier to do robotic design work in a simulation – they work perfectly every time there. Previously, our RoboCup team did not have any easy simulation tools, especially for testing behavior algorithms or strategies, which often require all the robots to be running for useful analysis. So, I took it upon myself to try and build such a simulation.
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A few weeks ago I had the chance to attend RoboCup 2016 in Leipzig, Germany. RoboCup is sort of like the World Cup, but for robots. Various teams from around the world bring their robots together to compete in robotic soccer as well as all sorts of other events like search and rescue, the Amazon Picking Challenge, industrial logistics, and home service.
There are many different soccer leagues but the one that I was a part of was the Standard Platform League (SPL). This league requires all teams to use only Aldebaran Nao robots and the competition involves programming them to play soccer autonomously.
Have you ever thought about how hard it is to walk? It's not something we often think about but, in reality, walking is incredibly difficult! Each step takes coordination between your brain and all the muscles in your legs. Each muscle has to move and contract in the proper sequence to move your leg out, place it on the ground, move forward, and repeat....