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Day 13 - Last Day in Sydney

So, we started out with a late morning due to the boys wanting to have a day to sleep past 8am and Dr. Maurer having some upset tummy issues from the dinner the previous night.  Around noon we headed out for our adventure for the day. 

We wanted to take the boys to see native Australian animals and so we headed to Taronga Zoo via ferry across the bay.  This zoo features a kangaroo walkaround exhibit where you can walk with freely roaming kangaroos and wallabies and an exhibit which allows you to get incredibly close to koalas.  The zoo also has a very cool activity called Wild Ropes that allows you to tackle a ropes course in the trees above the Australian animal exhibit.  Thinking this would be a fairly tame activity and hearing from native Australians how cool this was, we signed up.  Well, the tame part was not at all true.  This was like American Ninja Warrior!  These courses are not for the weak or faint of heart.  They featured tight ropes, swings, vertical nets, swinging ropes,…
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Day 12 - Presenting at the Symposium and Visiting the Opera House and the Bridge

The day started with Joseph talking about the Blue Storm RMRC robot as part of the Rapidly Manufactured Robot Challege presentation to at least 100 people at the RoboCup Junior Symposium.  He did a great job and I've uploaded a couple of clips of his contributions.  After the talk, he entertained questions about the robot for over an hour.  There were a lot of impressed audience members!

Next, it was off to the ferry for a ride over to the Opera House.  We took a tour that focused on the design and engineering of the structure.   

While Dr. Maurer went back to the symposium for more meetings, the boys and Mr. Cohen and Mr. Maurer climbed the bridge for some spectacular views of Sydney Harbor.  

For dinner, the group at Pancakes on the Rocks, a famous Sydney restaurant near the bridge.  

So, if you have ever wondered why the seagulls in Finding Nemo were portrayed the way they were, come to Sydney and it will be adundantly clear!  We have actually seen dogs trained as "Seagull Pat…

Day 11 - Finals in RMRC and the Superteam Challenge

This was a big day for Blue Storm robotics teams.  First, Onstage had preparations all morning for their Super Team performance with Germany, France and Taiwan.  They created a new performance called "Save the Wombat."  Unfortunately, there was a small glitch when Germany's bot stopped working during the performance.  It was still a clever idea and they had many elements that the judges were looking for - human-robot interaction, robot-robot interaction, good sensor integration, etc.

The results were posted this morning for individual rounds and our Onstage team earned 3rd Place!  Couldn't be prouder of our Onstage team - they did such a great job and worked so hard these past few weeks.

RMRC was up at the crack of dawn practicing runs on the finals course.  They devised a solid plan that showcased all aspects of the robot - navigation, sensors, dexterity, and QR code reading.   During all three rounds, Collin drove incredibly well.  We didn't have to reset once.  …

Day 10 - Last Individual Onstage Performance and Final Day of Prelims

All the effort and teamwork paid off today for the Onstage team.  

They took all of the judges feedback and worked last night to polish the presentation.  They also made a new training set of facial expressions that matched the lighting and stage conditions better.  After a couple of practice rounds this morning they were feeling great about the upcoming performance and then disaster struck - one of the arduinos powering a dance bot was fried!  Brent took an arduino out of the piano bot (sacrificing it's LED screen) to rewire the dance bot with only 20 minutes left until the performance.  It was an incredible save.  Here is a picture of the aftermath of the surgery in the back of the dance bot:

With only minutes to spare, they were ready to perform and absolutely nailed it.  It was a near perfect performance with the robots responding and moving as they should.  They used just about every second available to them. Here is the performance:

Watching them come off the stage as happy and…

Day 9 - First Performance and Second Day of Prelims

Today was a very full day of practice, preliminary runs and performances.

Onstage had practice runs in the morning in order to prepare for their performance right after lunch.  The performance was awesome except for one glitch in the facial recognition software.  The lighting conditions were too different from the training area to the main stage with spotlights and there was an issue reading one emotion.  The team has since worked on this bug so that the software should detect facial emotions correctly onstage.  You can see the performance below:

We received their judges score on the performance and they received a 24/40 - a very solid score.  There was a technical glitch with their video and it did not play in the background (accidental mistake on the part of the technician) and that should be fixed tomorrow.  They will also plan to use more dances in the performance, which should help them use more of the stage.  So, we are hopeful that they can improve their score on the second run (…

Day 8 - Technical Interviews and First Day of Prelims

Today was a full day for both teams.  Onstage had their technical presentation and their technical interview, both of which went well.  You can watch part of the technical presentation here:

In the afternoon, the Onstage team practiced for the performance which will take place tomorrow afternoon.

There was a lot of good energy around the potential of these robots from the crowd and we can't wait to see their performance tomorrow!

RMRC was in preliminaries all day from 9am to 4pm.  Essentially, each team has the opportunity to test their robot in each challenge throughout the course of the day.  The team decided to focus soley on navigation today.  The mission in the navigation challenges is to run from end to end in each palatte as many time as possible.  The goal is to achieve the high score in as many palattes as you can.  The higher the score, the higher your overall placement and the more likely the team is to make it into the final rounds.

Collin did an incredible job driving and…

Day 7 - Testing day in the venue

Today our teams were able to move into the venue for practice rounds.  Everyone was up bright and early.  After Onstage registered, they went right back to work on putting the performance together.

Here is a picture of the convention center hall that is holding RoboCup Junior just before the kids started pouring in.  There are three more halls like this to the left that are holding RoboCup majors.  Our RMRC teams is all the way at the other end of the convention center.

Today, the Onstage team continued to smooth out elements of their performance, tighten their script, and enhance the accuracy of the facial recognition code.  Tomorrow, they have their technical demonstration and technical interview. 

The RMRC team spent the day practicing on the test fields.  The robot drives very well. However, one of the cameras started cutting out.  Tonight we spent the evening trying to improve the reliability of the camera.

Also, the team found out the score of their technical paper - 99%!  This wil…