Preparations are in full swing: RoboCup 2012 will soon be with us and even before it starts requires full commitment from teams from all over the world. This year, Mexico City will be welcoming the participants in this logistics and production competition from 18 to 24 June 2012. After two years of demonstration competitions, the Festo logistics competition is now for the first time officially part of Festo’s events program. The long-awaited first world championship will take place in 2012 under the name “Logistics League sponsored by Festo".
This international competition will once again feature participants from all over the world. With their mobile robots, used as automated guided vehicle systems, they must complete challenging tasks with (in some cases) unknown production systems and measure their effectiveness.
Notwithstanding the competitive spirit, the battles which face the participants and the fun of playing as the teams work through real-world scenarios, the top priority is smooth logistics in complex manufacturing processes in a world of industrial production very close to everyday reality. The teams will be able to call on the assistance of state of the art identification technologies like RFID and navigation systems which are freely selectable by the participants. The teams’ tools will be programming systems and methods, as well as the development and use of the artificial intelligence of autonomous robots. What the participants need to provide themselves, however, are sufficient motivation, appropriate solutions and creative ideas.
Robotino ® as a guarantee for success
A large part in the competition will be played by the Festo Robotino®, the mobile robot and learning system for basic and further training. Equipped with artificial intelligence designed by Festo Didactic experts and featuring camera and sensor technology and energy-efficient drive, this is the guarantee of success in the Logistics League. When correctly programmed, it can find its own solutions for the tasks it is given or it can be used as a research and development platform for technical universities. In this way, students can learn to integrate and use great amounts of technology, for example electric drive technology, kinematics, sensors, closed-loop control technology, image processing and programming techniques. This provides an exciting and practical way of teaching both basic technical concepts and more complex subjects at university level.
But what sounds simple will be the great challenge for the many participants at RoboCup 2012: each team must program three robots, find answers to logistical problems and unravel the features of a virtually unknown production system within a 6 x 6 m playing area. As in the European Football Championship which is taking place at the same time, there is a group competition stage and then finals in a knockout system, in which two teams at a time must compete and deal with the same production scenario. The aim is to program the robot in such a way that it can autonomously carry out interdisciplinary tasks in the fields of mechatronics, information technology and logistics in production operations and communicate with machines. The ultimate objective is to produce the highest possible number of end products. This task means a severe challenge for humans and machine in a race against the clock.
The machines themselves are RFID read/write devices which check the relevant components or modules, detect the stage of production which has been achieved and - depending on the function in question - write a new production status on the chip.
The new competition of Festo should not only challenge the participants but also generate knowledge for the future: “ The RoboCup Logistics League, being held this year for the first time as an official event, is used by research institutes to measure their solutions against those of the other participants. Above and beyond this, however, the exchange of views both among the competing teams and between these and us, Festo, as the manufacturer of the technology platform used for the competition, is important for the further development of the control of future robotic systems in production operations“, says Dr. Dirk Pensky, Product Management Festo Didactic.
It’s all systems go for the competition on Wednesday, 20 June from 9 am. The final rounds start on Saturday, June 23 at 9 am. The winners will be announced on the same evening from 17: 00.
Festo aims to generate enthusiasm for technology
For years, the family company Festo has played an important part in supporting RoboCup and other competitions, in which the emphasis is on the fascination of technology. In this way, Festo intends to encourage technology-loving young people and open up a path for the interested and committed young people who will be the next generation of engineers. Helping young people to have fun with technology - for Festo, training is an important investment in the future.
The RoboCup competition has long been regarded as an attraction by researchers and students from all over the world, since it gives them a chance to demonstrate their skills. The first RoboCup competition was held in 1997. Mobile robotics competitions have been featured in the WorldSkills International Professional Championships since 2007, and Robotino® has been part of RoboCup since 2009. Since 2010, this event has been part of the new Festo Logistics Competition.