In good old traditon of beeing late to pronounce the result of this years field robot event, the best way to describe it is: “WE DID IT! Team Floribot scored rank 4!”
But first things first. Last year we identified some major issues with our concept of navigation and the setup of our robot. In the team meeting after the event we decided to use the year of preperation and apply some major changes. One problem of the setup was, that the tank kinematic had it’s issues with to much wheelspin. This way it was impossible to use odometry to determine the correct position of the robot at the end of a lane. Also the wheelspin interfered with a smooth turn to the next lane. So we changed the kinematic setup from the tank kinematic to a differential kinematic with an additional castor wheel. This way we only had three, instead of the former four, contact points and reduced the wheelspin to a minimum. Furthermore this change allowed us, to drive nearly perfect circles.
The second major change was with the concept of our navigation. Last year we used the ROS internal navigation and had quite some issues to adjust it to the contest field properties. So we decided to change our workflow and create our own navigation algorithm. This way it would be much easier to adjust the navigation to the contest rules. Also instead of inserting C/C++ code into the ROS system ourselves, we now generate the C/C++ code with Matlab/Simulink and are able to simulate the code, before we even need to push it on the real system.
Moreover we did a lot of minor chages, too. For example we now have an alternative way to manually control the robot with a Java application, instead of the Wii controller. Besides the team organization improved, thanks to a specific time mangement.
Overall the changes paid off and we scored in our third participation rank 4 of 23 competitors. This fantastic result even attracted some attention to the VDI news. If you like to read the article, just klick on the following link:
VDI news of the Field Robot Event 2014 (German article)
At the end I like to thank all my teammates for the great work they’ve done, in order to get everything ready in time. I know last year was quite exhausting, but in my opinion the effort was totally worth it .